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Man Accused of Arson Tried to Sue Zoning Board

Curtis Westover's lawsuit dismissed in February; barn on his property burned in 2005.

The 69-year-old Zion Road resident last weekend had filed suit against the Hillsborough Zoning Board in November.

Curtis Westover's suit, dismissed in February, charged the board with acting arbitrarily in ruling that it had no jurisdiction on Westover's application for a subdivision on his Zion Road property, the home of B&W Nursery, filed in June 2011.

In August 2005, a 40-foot by 40-foot pole barn burned on Westover's property. Smoke from that blaze, which was not deemed suspicious, could be seen as far away as the Somerville Circle, according to published reports. Officials said at the time said that a live power line had fallen on the building.

In June 2011, Westover applied for a subdivision of his 8-acre property in the township's mountain zone. One lot would contain an existing house while the other, a flag lot, would house a nursery, landscaping business and a lawn mower and small engine repair shop, according to the lawsuit filed in the Civil Division of Superior Court in Somerville.

In August, township planner Robert Ringelheim wrote Westover that the zoning board had no jurisdiction in the case because of a deed restriction on the property, the suit said. Ringelheim said that was the opinion of the board attorney, Mark Anderson.

In 2001, Westover had been granted a subdivision of a 14-acre parcel with the condition that the land be used for agricultural use.

The zoning board agreed in September 2011 with Anderson's opinion and decided that it had no jurisdiction over the application.

In his lawsuit, Westover contended that he did not "recall" agreeing to the planning board stipulation in 2001 that a deed restriction be placed on the property. He also argued in the suit that a nursery and small machine shop had been operating on the site since 1981.

In court papers, Anderson defended the board, saying it did not have jurisdiction in the case.

Both sides agreed to the dismissal of the suit in February.

Westover is being held in the Somerset County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail after being charged Saturday with second-degree aggravated arson in the , current chief of the Neshanic Volunteer Fire Co.

The vacant building itself was the subject of litigation and controversy.

Lazorchak, who owns the building and the adjacent  had been trying to demolish the structure and build a 6,700-square feet office building.

However, the Historic Preservation Commission denied the request, which Lazorchak appealed. Lazorchak's application was .

Lazorchak and his attorney, Michelle Lamar, have not returned messages for comment.

S.G. March 27, 2012 at 12:37 PM
After checking on the Zion Road property I understand your reference: 7-acres, farm (qualified) (3B), 2011 Est. Property Tax - $118.26.
Curt Carnes March 27, 2012 at 12:45 PM
S.G., There you go, espousing the so typical enlightened liberal theme. “Knowledge Homeowners understand that there are restrictions on what they can do with their property” Is that to say, the rest of us are too stupid to know? We should be thankful for people like you who can save ourselves from ourselves? Do you actually think you know more than a farmer who has been working that land for 30 years knows about his own land? Do you actually think two houses on an 8 acres lot will cause flooding, as compared to just one house? Tell me SG are you degreed in engineering? How about environmental sciences? Hydrogeology? Land management? Civil engineering? Range management? Rangeland ecosystem? Do you even really know what an impervious surface is? Could you read a soil log and derive the absorbent rate of the dirt in your backyard? Or are you just enlightened by the buzz words? Do you think you actually have an understand the science of what is going on around you? Also, can you tell me why, your house and your development is devoid of all the problems you state for everyone else? Do you actually feel Hillsborough was built just for you? Now that you are here no one else can come? WOW, talked about exclusory zoning. You know what SG, if the world were filled with people like you, we’d still think the world was flat, and airplanes still needed to flap their wings to fly! Thankfully, there are actually some truly “knowledgeable” people in the world!
Brandon Knox March 27, 2012 at 05:05 PM
All this insanity above zoning requirements etc is one reason NJ has been hemorrhaging residents for decades. Who wants to put up with it and the taxes, when you can move somewhere else (generally with nicer weather) and not have to deal with all this?
Curt Carnes March 27, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Brandon, You’d be surprised how many native (maybe that should be native with out the “t”) New Jerseyens are actually surprised to learn the vast majority of the United States of America, doesn’t have zoning laws. Then if you really want to see their jaws drop, suggest to them if they cross the border into Pa., or many other States, the person standing next to them in line at the local grocery store might legally be carrying a gun on his or her person!!! As far as NJ hemorrhaging people, that’s not quite correct. What has happened is our population has remained some what steady, however, all most three quarters of a million High Wage Earners have left the state, and have been replace with three quarters of a million marginalized workers, many of whom are on one form or another of government entitlement programs. Have you noticed the SNAP sign in front of the 7-11, or the WIC signs that are popping up? Sadly many native New Jersey residents are actually naive of what is happening right in fornt of their noses, because they refuse to acknowledge the truth, and perfer to stick their head in the sand, or complain about someone building a shed in their backyard. BTW, are you aware some NJ politicians are trying to bring back RGGI, this time hiding it under the cover of Windmills off the Atlantic City Coast? http://www.americansforprosperity.org/113011-tell-gov-christie-stop-100m-offshore-windmill-boondoggle
Mike Pignataro March 28, 2012 at 10:47 AM
An updated story has been posted: Curtis Westover appeared in front of the Township Committee Tuesday night, asking the governing body for help in resolving the zoning issue: http://patch.com/A-rXFm

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