Woman's Club President: "Not Happy" Sale of Property Collapsed
Joane Aponte says Maplewood neighbors who filed lawsuit are "working against us."
The president of The Maplewood Woman's Club, which recently was put back on the market after a long-anticipated deal fell through when the buyer backed out, is not happy with the turn of events.
“We’ve been doing everything we can do to move this forward," said President Joane Aponte in a press release. "There are people that are working against us in the sale of this property.”
Aponte was referring to a group of neighbors who had filed suit against both the buyer and the township challenging the Maplewood Zoning Board of Adjustment's (ZBA) 2011 decision to grant a use variance to Lamona LLC for the sale of the Woman's Club of Maplewood building at 60 Woodland Road.
Lamona LLC, a limited liability corporation formed by Tom Kerns, purchased the building in 2011 but the completion of the sale has been tied up in the lawsuit since October of that year.
Kerns said the decision to walk away from the sale was "personal" and he was "saddened" by it, but many have speculated Kerns was frustrated by the lengthy delay brought on by the suit.
Aponte added, “It would have been nice to get a call from the town to talk about this situation."
Mayor Vic DeLuca said he had no comment since the ZBA's approval is still an open legal matter, but the township committee will discuss the Woman's Club at its next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
The historic property is currently listed for $1,999,900, according to Caroline Farnsworth of Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct Realty in Maplewood Village. It is listed on the Garden State Multiple Listing Service.
Farnsworth said she has been receiving a lot of phone calls from people interested in purchasing the property, and she has had several showings. Potential buyers' interest in the property "runs the gamut from residential to commercial," she said.
As part of the Maplewood Village Alliance's Special Improvement District, the building is subject to a set of strict design guidelines, said Farnsworth. If a buyer wanted to demolish the current building and build something new, it would have to be "consistent with the look and feel of Maplewood," she said.
"There is no fear or danger of any kind of ugly monstrosity being built," Farnsworth said.
Meanwhile, Aponte said the club's members continue their philanthropic work, which includes supporting such charities and causes as domestic violence shelters in Essex County, supplies for children’s classrooms, Christmas gifts for soldiers in Iraq and scholarships to Douglas Women’s College.
The Woman’s Club is asking the town and residents to "rally around them to support them in this effort" to sell the property.
Interested parties may contact Farnsworth at (973) 698-0737.
Patch has reached out to one of the plaintiffs in the suit and will update this article when more information is available.