VINELAND — City officials have another week before they have to appear in Superior Court to possibly decide the future of their investigation into the Four Corners downtown development project.
Officials for the city and Four Corners developer Hans Lampart had been scheduled to appear today in Superior Court in Woodbury, Gloucester County.
Both Lampart and City Solicitor Alfred Verderose said court officials granted the one-week extension. All parties are now scheduled to be in court Jan. 11, they said.
Verderose said he will use that time to continue to brief new Mayor Ruben Bermudez on the complaint filed by Lampart, who is seeking to halt the city’s investigation. Verderose said he will also brief all five new City Council members on the matter when they meet for the first time Tuesday.
Bermudez said Thursday that he did not want to make a hasty decision regarding Lampart’s complaint.
The $40 million Four Corners project was to turn the intersection of Landis and East avenues into a sort of economic gateway for the downtown business district. The only part of the project to be completed involves the $10 million renovation of the Landis Theater Performing Arts Center. That project was built with about $4 million in Urban Enterprise Zone funds, which come from state sales tax revenue.
Members of the previous City Council, whose terms have expired, formed an investigative committee and hired an auditing company to determine how the funds were spent. Council members never said publicly that they knew of any wrongdoing. They said the investigation and audit were meant to quell rumors about project financing.
Among the arguments made by Lampart and his Eastern Pacific Development LLC company is that the investigative committee no longer legally exists because the terms of its members — council members Peter Coccaro and Mayra Arroyo — ended Tuesday.
Lampart also argues in his complaint that the court should strike a $25,000 contract extension the previous City Council awarded to the Holman & Frenia auditing firm last week, contending that “a lame-duck governing body cannot bind a successor governing body.”
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