TOMS RIVER-Hours after a meeting between Scott Gartner and Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill, a new building permit was on file to allow for work to continue at a home owned by Rabbi Moshe Rotberg. Rotberg paid a $75 building permit fee to continue work at the site.
Hill sounded the alarm on illegal construction at the rabbi’s home last Monday.
“There is a permit posted for HVAC work and interior alternations. Yet there is obvious work being done to alter the exterior of the home and expand the foundation. There is no dumpster or port-a-john on the property,” Hill said.
Hill then called for a work stoppage at the home.
Later than evening, Hill visited the posh North Dover home of Gartner, where the two “had a[n] iced tea”. The next morning, the township issued a permit update for Rotberg allowing construction to continue. The township would not comment on the incident nor say whether or not fines were issued for the “illegal construction”.
In June, Rotberg was given a permit at the residence to work on the air conditioning and furnace, interior alterations and to build a new, small addition. Plans for those additions and interior changes are on file with the township.
Last Tuesday, the township updated Rotberg’s permit to include a revision to plan beam sizes. According to the township records, no other work was being performed illegally and today, construction continued despite the call by Hill.
“Work should be stopped at the property until the proper permits are issued, and the contractor’s license is verified,” Hill said. “Citations should be issued for any violations and the Zoning Officer should review the plans to determine if any use variances are required.”
The township would not reveal whether or not citations were issued.
Hill’s relationship with Gartner has been criticized by residents in Toms River after Gartner threatened to sue the township if the town did not change an ordinance to allow a synagogue to be built on less than 10 acres. Township officials have since noted that they will revisit the ordinance, but it is unlikely to be presented to the council prior to this year’s election. Gartner has donated thousands of dollars to Hill’s election campaign.
In the past year, Toms River Township has issued 6,100 building permits, more than Lakewood. According to Hill’s campaign, the majority of those permits were for home renovations and passed the buck on the out of control development in North Dover to the state.
“The new construction in the northern part of Toms River is a result of the Court Ordered settlement with Fair Share Housing. These mandated used to be known as COAH,” Hill said on his campaign website. “Fair Share Housing sought up to 2400 affordable units in the litigation.”
“So in Toms River with 39,000-plus residential units, 120 were really for single-family homes and that represents a growth rate of .3 percent,” Hill wrote in an email. “I would argue that is not overdevelopment.”