SECAUCUS - A Federal court judge in Newark today dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought by a Brooklyn-based bakery that had planned to move to Secaucus.
The decision ends a long and contentious legal battle between Secaucus and Damascus Bakery, a family-owned wholesale pita bread operation.
In 2007, Damascus set its sights on 10 Enterprise Ave., an old warehouse in Secaucus, and had planned to move its growing business there. In March 2007, Damascus applied for a zoning permit from the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC), a state agency that controls zoning decisions over 88 percent of the land in Secaucus. The NJMC subsequently approved the bakery's zoning decision.
When residents learned of the bakery's plans, however, they were angry they had not been notified of Damascus' zoning application and expressed concerns about increased traffic from the bakery, the volatility of the baking ingredients, and other environmental issues. Residents and town officials were particularly concerned about the warehouse's close proximity to several homes and Clarendon School, and the town filed a lawsuit to prevent the bakery from moving to the Enterprise Avenue address.
In 2008, however, an Appellate Court ruled that the NJMC was within its rights when it approved the bakery's zoning application, and the State Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The bakery's owners eventually abandoned plans to move to Secaucus and began looking at alternative sites for its business in other cities. But they filed a civil lawsuit of their own against the town and several local officials in federal court, alleging that they had lost more than $5 million because the bakery was unable to move to the Enterprise Avenue warehouse and expand the business as planned.
Federal Court Judge William J. Martini dismissed the bakery's civil lawsuit in a 13-page decision dated Aug. 25. The suit was dismissed against the town and four current and former town officials, including former Secaucus mayor Dennis Elwell. - E. Assata Wright