LINDEN – It appears Irv Glass, owner of ShopRite in Aviation Plaza, may not have a legal leg to stand on when it comes to continuing his battle to stop retail development on the 100-acre former General Motors site fronting Routes 1 and 9.
Recently the New Jersey Supreme Court flatly refused to hear the latest appeal by Glass targeting the city’s site plan approval process for the proposed Super Walmart anchor store in Legacy Square.
But, despite New Jersey court rulings against Glass time and again, he has continued to file lawsuits that are specifically intended to stop the project.
Glass has been holding the project hostage for four years, filing one lawsuit after another to keep the project from moving forward. Mayor Rich Gerbounka wonders how long it will be before the owners of Super Walmart get tired of all the legal holdups and simply back out of the project.
“Irv Glass doesn’t want competition from a Super Walmart across the highway because they have a supermarket,” Gerbounka explained, adding that free enterprise involves competition from other businesses and that is what America is all about.
It was good news for Duke Realty that the state Supreme Court would not hear the appeal because they now have the opportunity to get a shovel in the ground at Legacy Square. Although Mayor Rich Gerbounka doubts they will take the chance.
“Would you start a $148 million project if you thought there might be another lawsuit coming down the line? That is how Glass works,” the mayor added.
Gerbounka admitted he was not about to let his guard down either.
“I just don’t trust ShopRite,” he said, adding “their strategy has been to delay, delay and delay with the hope Super Walmart would ‘fold their tent.’”
The mayor said despite the latest ruling by the highest court in New Jersey and another in June by the appeals court that found arguments by ShopRite to be “without merit,” a few weeks ago Glass again pulled the legal rug out from under everyone.
“I couldn’t believe it but Irv Glass filed another lawsuit against Wawa, who are trying to open a store and gas station on the far end of the GM property,” Gerbounka said, explaining the legal move came right after the Planning Board approved the convenience store’s site plan two months ago.
“It’s another frivolous lawsuit,” the mayor said, adding that “they are going to do everything they can to bust us legally.”
The mayor did hear Wawa is involved in talks with Glass, but he did not know how it was going or what compromises might be made by either party.
“What does ShopRite in Aviation Plaza have to fear from any other store?” Gerbounka said, baffled by entire thing.
“Look, I’m getting tired of these lawsuits, so imagine how everyone involved with this project feels with all these delays,” he added, pointing out that every time there is another legal holdup, the city loses out on reaping $5.2 million in tax revenues that will come from the developed former GM site.
Calls to Glass were not returned.