In a January 28, 2016 decision, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon ruled in Kash v. Borough of Freehold, et al, Docket No. MON-L-2814-15 that Freehold Borough’s Redevelopment Entity’s decision to enter into nonpublic (closed or executive) session because of the “anticipated litigation” exception embodied within N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b)(7) did not violate the Open Public Meetings Act. Even though a land use challenger did not directly threaten the Borough with litigation, his lawyer’s inquiries to the Borough’s lawyer about whether he would be permitted to cross-examine the applicant’s witnesses and the appeal process if his bid to cross-examine was denied justified the closed session.
Judge Escandon also ruled, among other issues presented, that Borough Mayor J. Nolan Higgins’ ownership of a funeral home near the property that was the subject of the application did not constitute a conflict of interest that precluded Mayor Higgins from participating in the application.