Andrew Lucas will finally get his $1,152,000.
After almost three years since the Manalapan Township Committee Member purchased a 97 acre farm in Iron Ore Road, the Manalapan Township Committe and the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders approved the funding of their respective portion of the purchase of the development rights to the property. Manalapan is paying $186,969.10 of the purchase price. Monmouth County is paying $277,920. The balance is coming from State coffers for the purpose of Open Space preservation.
Manalapan’s all Republican Committee approved their funds, 2-1, on Wednesday evening, according to ManalapanPatch. Committeeman Ryan Green voted no. Deputy Mayor Jordan Maskowitz abstained. Mayor Susan Cohen, the Monmouth GOP Vice Chair, and Committeeman Donald Holland voted to approve the purchase. Lucas recused himself from the proceedings. Maskowitz and Lucas are both up for reelection this November.
The isssue was heated at the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders meeting last night, with John Curley accusing his fellow freeholder, Lillian Burry, of colluding with Lucas. Lucas hosted a fundraiser for Burry at the farm in 2011, according to the Asbuy Park Press. The APP said the exchanges between Curley and Burry were so intense that Freeholder Director Tom Arnone called multiple recesses. Arnone voted with Curely against the purchased. Gary Rich and Serena DiMaso joined Burry in voting for the purchase.
Democratic Freeholder candidate Lawrence Luttrell asked Burry to recuse herself. County Counsel Andrea Bazer advised Burry that she had no conflict that would prevent her from voting.
Former Middletown Democratic Township Commitee candidate Linda Baum also spoke against the purchase on ethical grounds.
The issue has been controversial for years because, while he recused himself from voting as a committee member on the purchase, Lucas participated in deliberations about the transaction. The State Local Finance Board approved the ethics of Lucas’ participation due to the fact that he sought the advice of the Township’s attorney. In their opinion, the Finance Board indicated that they would be issuing new rules to cover future similar circumstances.