TOMS RIVER-Toms River resident Ryan Protter has called upon Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer to investigate campaign funds received by Mo Hill, claiming the mayoral candidate has engaged in unethical and “potentially illegal” conduct.
Hill, a sitting councilman on the Toms River Council and member of the Toms River Land Use Committee is also running for mayor of Toms River in this year’s election.
Photo: Maurice Hill’s vehicle parked in front of the home of Scott Gartner, a man who threatened to sue Toms River if the town did not change the zoning laws for religious facilities.
Protter’s complaint is as follows:
I am writing to request a formal investigation into Toms River Councilman Mo Hill, who is also a member of the Toms River Land Use Committee. An investigation should be conducted into the links between campaign contributions made to Councilman Hill, and subsequent zoning changes proposed by the Toms River Land Use Committee.
The following timeline describes the potentially illegal and unethical conduct of Councilman Hill:
Exhibit 1) According to the Asbury Park Press (Synagogue supporters threaten to sue Toms River, June 21, 2018), Scott Gartner threatened to sue Toms River with a “war chest of $500,000.” Also according to this article, Gartner requested that the current 10-acre zoning for Shuls (synagogues) be changed to “normal zoning of two to five acres.”
Exhibit 2) On May 31, 2019, Councilman Hill’s campaign received a $2600 donation from Scott Gartner. Councilman Hill is a member of the Toms River Land Use Committee, which makes recommendations to the full council on land use issues, including zoning changes.
Exhibit 3A and 3B) On July 31, 2019, Councilman Hill met with Scott Gartner in his home for several hours. Photographs of Hill’s vehicle parked at Gartner’s house are included as exhibits 3A and 3B.
Exhibit 4) According to the Shore News Network (July 31, 2019) when confronted about his meeting with Hill, Gartner denied that the meeting took place. Only after Gartner was shown photographs of Councilman Hill’s vehicle parked at his home, Gartner admitted, “Yeah. We had a[n] iced tea.”
Exhibit 5) On September 13, 2019, the agenda for the Land Use Committee (which includes Councilman Hill) included a draft ordinance that would change the zoning for “small site places of worship” from 10 acres to 2 acres. The change to 2-acre zoning is exactly what Scott Gartner requested.