We wish that the headline of this post was exaggeration, but sadly, it is not. Reese’s House, and all of our plans for it, is under attack by a local property owner whose property is adjacent to ours. Please take a minute to read this post to see what is going on and how you can help.
We first appeared in front of the Millville Zoning Board in December of 2022 to request to change the zoning for our building to serve as a multi-faceted community center. At that meeting, a local property owner, Rick Abbott, hired an attorney to speak out against our usage of our building as a community center. His attorney argued that the usage was too vague and suggested that reliance on public transportation will encourage those who so rely to “hang out” while waiting for their ride.
Even with this testimony from Mr. Abbott’s attorney, the Zoning Board voted 6-1 in favor of our resolution and approved our usage. We have a very specific set of guidelines that we were approved for in our space, which is consistent with what we have discussed publicly for years about our goals for Reese’s House and our community.
We found out two weeks ago that Mr. Abbott had appealed the Zoning Board decision locally in Millville to the City Commissioners as well as to the Cumberland County Superior Court. His reason? The same reason that was already discussed in the original meeting with numerous facts that directly counter his arguments.
We appeared in front of the Millville City Commission at a meeting on February 21. At this meeting, the City Solicitor publicly acknowledged that there were issues with the timeliness of Mr. Abbott’s appeal filing (he was over 10 days late to file); however, the City Commission decided to ignore that fact and scheduled a hearing to go through the appeal process anyway. We tried to tell them that it shouldn’t be heard because it was late according to the NJ statutes that govern our city, but our pleas fell on deaf ears.
The Commissioners scheduled the hearing for Tuesday, April 4, at 4 pm at Millville City Hall. At this meeting, the Commissioners will hear both sides and will ultimately decide whether to approve or deny the appeal.
If Mr. Abbott is successful with his appeal, it will cost us even more to appeal to Superior Court. If he is not successful, he has already appealed to Superior Court. While we are confident on the grounds of our case that we have established, this late and frivolous appeal will cost us thousands in legal fees as we have to be represented by an attorney. If and when it goes to Superior Court, it will cost us even more.
So what can you do to help? If you are local, please consider coming out to the meeting on April 4th to let the City Commission know that our community supports and needs this endeavor. Information for the meeting can be found here. If you would like to help support us financially through this endeavor, you can make a donation here. If you can’t do either of those, please share this email or event information with friends, family members, colleagues, and anyone else that might want to help.
We have come this far through the support of people like you. If we are going to weather this storm and be able to operate Reese’s House as we dreamed, we will need every bit of that support to continue.