HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ – Howell Township Mayor Theresa Berger is being sued by Resource Engineering, LLC, the Republican-backed company owned by the husband of former Monmouth County Clerk, Claire French. In early 2017, the Howell Township council, including current council candidate Evelyn O’Donnell gave the backdoor green light on the project. Once Shore News Network broke the news that the dump was being pushed through backwater channels by the Republican Party and would gain approval at a lightly publicized meeting that was unknown even to the Howell Township elected body, Mayor Berger fired off a scathing email to the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders opposing the plan previously approved by the Howell Republicans a few months earlier.
Now, Resource Engineering is suing Berger and the township for backing out of the deal that was approved by the Republican township council members on May 7th, blaming the mayor’s meddling for blocking the project.
According to the lawsuit, Resource Engineering states that on March 6th, 2017, the township of Howell sent a letter agreeing to build the controversial waste transfer station and the Monmouth County Solid Waste Advisory Council voted unanimously to approve the large facility that would increase heavy commercial traffic along Randolph Road.
Shore News Network was notified by a vendor which handles recycling in Ocean County, worried that because of political channels, much of Ocean County’s solid waste businesses would be funneled through the Howell site, causing more traffic along major roadways, including Route 9, Route 70, County Line Road and other major arteries connected Ocean County to the RE facility.
Days after our story broke, Berger put the brakes on the backroom deal being carried out by Township Republicans, including current councilwoman Evelyn O’Donnell.
RE condemned the township’s “inexplicable about face” led by Berger. Soon after, the Republican on the council also joined Berger, despite giving their prior blessing.
The lawsuit states Berger objected to the increase in heavy traffic, patchwork road signals and that the project would diminish property values, negatively affect the town’s ‘hometown’ feeling and that it was not in the best interests of Howell Township residents.
Despite Berger’s objections and the township’s reversal on the matter, RE is now suing Berger and the township to move forward on the project.