BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - Cape May Seashore Lines, which filed a lawsuit last week against Buena Vista Township to stop the sale of property the railroad uses for visitor parking, will resume its holiday historic train service. The Santa Express train will run several times a day on weekends between Richland Village in Buena Vista Township and Tuckahoe from Nov. 30 through Dec. 22, the company announced in a statement.
The Santa "Starlight" Express, on which visitors are encouraged to wear their pajamas, will run in the evenings Dec. 12, Dec. 17 and Dec. 19 and Dec. 23, the company said.
On Friday, Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson stopped tonight's planned public auction of six Buena Vista Township-owned properties in Richland Village, including a property that has been used for years for the railroad's parking.
Cape May Seashore Lines, The Rail restaurant and bar, and resident Mary E. Taft, filed suit Thursday against the township, seeking a permanent stay of the sale. Further court proceedings will determine if the sale can go forward at all.
The suit alleges, in part, that the railroad and restaurant owners were promised parking on township-owned properties now up for sale, and that loss of the parking would irreparably harm their businesses.
The plaintiffs also allege that a majority faction of committee members were pushing for a quick sale of township-owned properties that had been purchased for development of a railroad-themed tourist attraction, without gathering the necessary information to properly protect taxpayers.
They also say the majority faction had violated the state's Open Public Meetings Act and other laws in order to sell the properties while they still have a majority on committee.
Committee members, all Democrats, have been been split in two factions for years, with Mayor Sue Barber and Peter Bylone and Richard Harlan in the majority and Chuck Chiarello and Teresa Kelly in the minority.
While Barber and Bylone voted many times over the years in support of Richland Village redevelopment into a railroad themed tourist attraction, in recent years they have changed their minds about it, they have said.
Chiarello and Kelly remain supporters of the redevelopment plan.
Bylone and Harlan lost a June primary and will be out of office on Jan. 1, replaced by John Williams and Steve Martinelli, both of whom oppose a quick sale of the properties.
Cape May Seashore Lines tickets are available online. Reserved ticket purchases are recommended, the company said. A limited number of "walk up" tickets for each train may be available at each station.
The Richland Station is at 1275 Harding Highway (Route 40), Richland. The Tuckahoe Station is at Reading and Railroad avenues, Tuckahoe, Upper Township (Woodbine on GPS maps).
Contact Michelle Brunetti Post: