TOMS RIVER, NJ – The Democrat-Republican alliance in Toms River Township is close to solidifying a deal with the Orthodox Jewish community to change their 10 acre religious zoning ordinance. Behind the scenes, Hill has been working with Councilwomen Laurie Huryk and Maria Maruca, along with Councilmen Terrance Turnbach and Kevin Geoghegan to allow 2-acre zoning in the North Dover section of town. This comes after Hill and Geoghegan received thousands of dollars in political campaign contributions from resident Scott Gartner during their 2019 campaign. Gartner once threatened to sue to the Township of Toms River if the town did not lower the zoning ordinance to allow for residential shuls within neighborhoods.
This proposed zoning ordinance change, pushed by Hill and the above councilmembers is expected to be approved in the very near future, according to sources within Toms River.
Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill is working with federal authorities for guidance on how to reduce Toms River’s 10 acre minimum for houses of worship. There is no lawsuit and no charges have been filed against the township, but Hill, who made a campaign promise to his Orthodox constituents in North Dover has been hard-pressed to find a way to make it happen.
Last summer, Hill tried to sneak a two-acre zoning ordinance into the mix last year, then once it became public denied any knowledge of it. He was called out by Toms River Councilwoman Laurie Huryk for lying about the ordinance, according to a report this week in the Asbury Park Press.
Toms River Councilman Daniel Rodrick remains the only elected official in Toms River that has opposed Mo Hill’s two-acre proposal. Rodrick said he felt that law was on the books for ten years and wasn’t designed to target any religion.
After the Department of Justice dropped its lawsuit against the township without ordering a two-acre minimum, Hill asked the Department for guidance on the 10 acre law. Hill is now in negotiations with the Department of Justice to try to get a formal request to lower the cap.
One of Hill’s largest financial donors, Scott Gartner, had threatened to sue the township if the ordinance was not changed.