Home News Beach motel owner alleges civil rights violations after N.J. officials try to condemn property

Beach motel owner alleges civil rights violations after N.J. officials try to condemn property

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Point Pleasant Beach abandoned a controversial plan to demolish a local hotel to build a parking lot this summer, but a legal battle over the site followed after property owners accused the borough of civil rights violations. continues.

Owner of Amethyst Beach Motel First lawsuit filed in May 2021 It challenged the ward’s 3-2 council vote last month, paid the owner for the property, and acquired the land through eminent domain.

After months of defending plans to denounce motels and force owners to sell, the council voted to reverse the decision on July 5, officials said.

Despite the abolition, motel owner John Fernicola said the lawsuit was continuing, and recently added additional claims. It alleges that he denied his civil rights, including attempting to seize his property without due process.

The Amethyst Beach Motel is a 40-room motor lodge on Arnold Avenue and has been owned by the Fernicola family since 1962. Fernicola’s property is now unclaimed, but he said he is pursuing a lawsuit to hold the district legally responsible.

“I am trying to protect 60 years of property acquisition and family ownership. This is a legacy that has helped me leave my grandchildren. without,” says Fernicola.

A judge recently denied Fernicola’s request to have Point Pleasant Beach bear his attorney’s fees. If he does, he hopes the borough will pay his attorney’s fees.

When asked to comment on the civil rights claims newly added to the lawsuit, Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Canitra said, “All I can say at this point is that we are very pleased with the recent court results. That said, no legal fees paid at all speaks volumes, and we expect to see even more positive overall results in the near future.”

In the lawsuit, Fernicola claimed the mayor had defamed him multiple times, and Kanitra included a Facebook post that claimed the motel owner had a councilor in his “back pocket.” rice field.

The lawsuit also alleges that Kanitra exchanged text messages with former borough police chiefs, one of which was an April 2020 text message from the police chief stating, “I bought his place and will demolish it tomorrow.” I wish I could,’ he said.

Renderings provided by Fernicola in early 2020 showed what the area would look like if the motel grounds were deprecated and used to expand the parking lot. The borough’s plans included covering the site with dozens of parking spaces adjacent to the existing parking lot. It also adds trees and shrubs around the property.

Fernicola argues that the borough was untrue when authorities said they wanted to acquire the land through eminent domain because the area needed parking. Instead, the borough wanted to blame the motel because it deemed it “nuisance,” according to the lawsuit.

A rendering of Point Pleasant Beach provided by the owner of the Amethyst Beach Motel. It shows how the motel grounds and surrounding grounds can be used as public parking.DW Smith Associates via Point Pleasant Beach

The motel’s history includes a high-profile incident in July 2017. 23-year-old woman drowns Her friends allegedly pushed her into the motel pool.the motel owner sued by some of his tenantshe accused of violating an eviction moratorium and trying to force them out during the pandemic.

Authorities say the motel received more than 200 police calls in 2020. According to the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department, he’s had at least 50 victims this year.

Prior to the lawsuit, Fernicola said it also maintains contracts with the Ocean County Social Services Commission to provide housing services to guests with disabilities and other vulnerable people.

According to the lawsuit, the motel is populated primarily by black and Latino residents.

A borough official said, “Predominantly black and Latino residents and patrons viewed the ‘upscale’ atmosphere as a problem for the borough. [they] Trying to cultivate,” the lawsuit claimed.

A court date has not been set to hear the lawsuit’s new claims, but Fernicola said he plans to continue renovating the motel.

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Contact Nyah Marshall at: [email protected].com

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