FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Following the authorization of a settlement agreement, a commuter parking lot in Freehold Township is now under the ownership of the municipality.
During a meeting on April 28, Township Committee members authorized the settlement of a legal matter known as the Township of Freehold v. Freehold Shopping Associates et al.
As acknowledged by officials that night, the settlement agreement is for commuter parking spaces at the Freehold Mall strip mall, Route 9 North.
The Freehold Mall, not to be confused with the Freehold Raceway Mall, is commonly known as the shopping center that includes a Burlington Coat Factory store, Terrace Bagels and a Work Out World fitness center.
Freehold Shopping Associates was the previous owner of the approximately 300 parking spaces in the shopping center. A lease between Freehold Township and the property owner permitted some of the parking spaces to be used by commuters.
Freehold Township’s efforts to gain ownership of the commuter parking spaces date back to 2016 when the lease for commuter parking at the shopping center was terminated by Freehold Shopping Associates.
To maintain the parking spaces for commuters, the Township Committee authorized the use of eminent domain (condemnation), if advisable, to acquire a real property interest over the parking spaces in the shopping center.
Eminent domain allows a governing body to take private property from its owner for a public use, with compensation paid to the property owner.
In 2017, a judge ruled municipal officials were authorized to acquire the parking spaces and commuters were permitted to keep using the parking spaces.
The settlement will cost Freehold Township $1.3 million, according to municipal officials, and commuters will be permitted to continue using the parking spaces.