TOMS RIVER, NJ – Toms River Councilman Matt Lotano admitted on Tuesday that he had a business relationship with an auction house that facilitated the sale of a 1.2-acre parcel of land in Silverton. One councilman feels that auction was done under the radar. That is until Councilman Daniel Rodrick started turning stones over in town hall about the sale. Rodrick claims he called the auctioneer hours before his council meeting about the sale. The council had been in support of this land sale, now known to be to Lakewood Township Planning Board Member Chaim Sabel, until Rodrick began nosing into their business.
Rodrick suspects the auction house tipped off Lotano prior to the meeting and alerted him to the call he made. Lotano suddenly decided to pull that sale from the agenda. Once things got out of hand and it was apparent that the cat was out of the bag and residents in town were upset over the land sale, Mayor Mo Hill sprung into action, two weeks after he drafted three resolutions endorsing the land sale to ask the council to not sell the land after all.
Magically, on Tuesday, the entire township council had an epiphany that this was a bad deal. Lotano tried to change the narrative and paint himself as the hero, but we all know nothing in Toms River town hall gets done without Team Hill asking for it to get done.
Rodrick said he turned all of his evidence over to the New Jersey Department of Criminal Justice which is currently investigating the entire matter. When asked if he had a prior relationship with Sabel, the Lakewood Planning Board Member and land buyer, Lotano did not answer and remained silent.
As for Lotano, he is a land developer himself. One of his more notable projects is the downtown apartment building across from Toms River High School South that was touted as the future model of high density housing in Downtown Toms River, but now serves as primarily section 8 and affordable housing.