Moonlight Properties Sues the City of Gardner for $6 Million for "Illegal Taking of Property"
Posted on May. 6th, 2009
Posted by Peter Solie GardnerEDGE
Gardner City Hall
GardnerEDGE has learned that “effective immediately, the owners of Moonlight Properties are suing the City of Gardner for financial damages in an amount exceeding Six Million Dollars ($6,000,000.00), for the illegal taking of our land and all legal fees incurred.” Mr. Stan Stanton and the developers of Wellington Point Apartments had a re-zoning proposal before the Gardner City Council on Monday evening. The re-zoning proposal failed. Monday evening's rejection was the second time in as many years that Moonlight Properties' request for re-zoning has been denied.
Mr. Stanton believes that the failure to rezone is in effect a “taking” of his property. He said, “It’s obvious to us that the ‘powers that be’ have determined that if they do not approve the re-zoning request, the property will just remain status quo, depriving the land owner of the legitimate use of his property but by doing so, eliminate both the schools occupancy problem and prolonging the expense of dealing with the Moonlight Road traffic issue which will only grow worse. Let’s not forget that the issue is rezoning current M-1 Industrial, which is already allowed by law, to RP-3 Multi-Family which at the end of the day reduces traffic over 1,000 trips per day. One use or the other will happen sooner rather than later.”
Mr. Stanton continued, “We find the current City Council all but dysfunctional and acting in every way not in the best interests of the city or its citizens. We feel we have been treated unfairly and have required us to incur considerable, unnecessary expense. Notwithstanding those that would be against our development regardless, we sincerely feel that Wellington Pointe would be a much better use of the subject property than an Industrial Park for everyone in the area. Do you honestly think that if we were applying to zone our property Industrial today the city would say yes, that’s a great spot for industrial? It’s only about 8 blocks from the elementary school and would be right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Now you know the neighborhood would be over whelmed with joy to hear that industrial buildings, big trucks and 24 hour traffic were coming to their back yard.”
GardnerEDGE reported yesterday that the two main concerns expressed by the council members voting against the project were traffic and an inability to confirm that the senior citizen portion of the project would be built as senior citizen housing. According to Stanton, “We provided professional and accurate information as to the effect our development will have regarding traffic and in that regard, we presented information that confirmed that the daily traffic count would be reduced by over 1,000 trips per day verses the current M-1 zoning.”
Regarding the senior citizen housing question he stated, “Insinuations were made that once we had our zoning request approved we might, would, could change the tenancy from senior citizen to some other use. The City Attorney advised that if we were to do anything other than what we were representing we would be in violation of federal law. Although our reputation is beyond repute, we agreed to provide whatever documentation the City Planning Department would require to address the concern, it didn’t make any difference.”
The GardnerEDGE contacted Mayor Dave Drovetta regarding this lawsuit and he declined comment on this or any pending litigation involving the city. He said, “it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any litigation involving the city. I just can’t comment at this time.”
Clearly frustrated by the failure of the Council to act on his re-zoning request, Mr. Stanton stated, “The City Council has acted to suit their agenda and not that of the city, its citizens and most importantly regarding this case, its property owners. Now it’s our opinion the Gardner City Council will not care that much about the law suit because the legal fees and expenses will not be coming from their pocket, it will be the tax payers in Gardner that get to foot the bill. One might ask the “new boss” of Gardner (Mrs. Peters) why is it that the city can’t afford the number of police cars it really needs but it sure can afford to spend your tax dollars defending a law suit we really think it can’t win. When you take a property owners land without paying him for it, that’s against the law.”