The Lucas Farm Deal Explained

By Steve McEnery, Manalapan

Steve McEnery

Steve McEnery

We have been hearing about the Lucas Farm deal for about 4 years now, especially around election time. I wonder why that is? With this letter, I will try and explain what has transpired.

First, let me explain why I believe I know how this unfolded. I was friendly with Mr. Lucas, when the Farm became available. He thought about buying it; placing the property into the States Farmland Preservation Program. One of the first actions he took was to question the State’s Ethics Board to see if it was ok.  They wrote back (he read me their response) that there was nothing illegal or unethical about what he was doing, However, it might be better, politically, if he waited until he was out of office. He chose not to.

He acted then, because the property was zoned for residential use, and homes could be built on the property, adding to the congestion on Route 522A, not far from his home and farm.

This property was also viewed by the County as a prize because of its size and location since 2008. (“Target Farm List update” Sept 17, 2008).

Another Myth was that Andrew voted for this property. The Township vote took place on May 11th, 2011. The vote was Green, Maskowitz, Holland yes, Roth no and Lucas recused himself (from the Manalapan Township meeting notes). Jack McNaboe and Susan Cohen did not vote on the Farmland acquisition, they were not elected at this time.

In a letter dated Sept. 13, 2012 from NJ State Department of Community affairs; RE; Local Government Ethics Law Complaint #12-007 was the complaint that was made against Mr. Lucas and his involvement in meetings that discussed other properties in Manalapan and advanced his own property position.  The Board found that Mr. Lucas “had the right to submit an application as would any other individual. ……You appropriately recused yourself from any official role in proceedings ….concerning your application.so these allegations were found by the Board to be unsubstantiated”

Another issue of planned confusion was the result of the Judge’s ruling on the Court case involving a Fund Raiser on the Farm property. “The Court is unable to find any conflict of interest in the instant, either real or apparent.  The Board of Freeholders voted to commit to the development easement in question in 2011, nearly two years prior to the disputed vote.” The vote was taken “in order to obtain the commitment from the State (for funding)”. (Monmouth County Board resolution # 2011-0367)

Then there was the vote for funding.  Manalapan Township Voted: Susan Cohen and Don Holland yes, Jordan Maskowitz abstained (at the time he was not comfortable where Mr. Lucas got the funding having been a State Trooper gave him the instincts to question Mr. Lucas’s funding for the purchase), Mr. Green voted no (he never passes on an opportunity to be a contrarian if it can hurt someone).  In realty those that voted yes were on the right side of the issue. They had been counseled that since the Land had been accepted into the Farm Land Program, Cohen and Holland just approved the use of Funds (that were set aside for preserving Land in Manalapan); to refuse to do so would have been irresponsible, since the county and state had approved the inclusion based in part on the promise by Manalapan to pay its share. Not only could Andrew have sued the Township for an arbitrary refusal to approve the funding, but both the County and the State may well have a legitimate legal claim against Manalapan. (Manalapan Township meeting notes, Feb. 27th, 2013)

Finally, what did Andrew do? He was convicted on an 11 count indictment, all on issues concerning his deceptions, during his funding of the purchase of the Farm Land. He was amoral in his behavior.  He alone deserves punishment.

The other players in this spectacle were only following the procedures set in place for everyone to follow: the State of NJ; the Judge; the Board of Chosen Freeholders; Manalapan Township Committee.

Because of their actions, Manalapan has a beautiful piece of property to enjoy, forever, rather than a lawsuit that could have cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Election season is almost over, and, hopefully any future discussion on the Lucas Farm deal.

Steve McEnery is Chairman of the Manalapan Republican Committee

Posted: October 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Andrew Lucas, Manalapan, Monmouth County | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

12 Comments on “The Lucas Farm Deal Explained”

  1. Jim Granelli said at 10:26 am on October 29th, 2014:

    Mr. Grillo & Mr. Luttrell,

    Now that this has been thoroughly explained for the umpteenth time, both chronologically and in context…

    Would you please explain to voters what you want to do for the County, you know…

    Things like use Essex County as a model for Monmouth County. Otherwise, you have nothing to run on other than faux charges and baloney.

  2. Sancho Panza said at 11:53 am on October 29th, 2014:

    @”He acted then, because the property was zoned for residential use, and homes could be built on the property, adding to the congestion on Route 522A, not far from his home and farm.”

    Where is “Route 522A”? Does it have a more commonly used name?

  3. Wish I knew said at 5:35 pm on October 29th, 2014:

    I wish I knew where to obtain $1 million plus in “funding” to purchase a farm…. ohh, right some crooked banker, like John Corzine and his buddies. And that is who belongs in jail, the crooked bankers, not good guy and savior of open space, Andrew Lucas.

  4. Barry said at 5:42 pm on October 29th, 2014:

    It’s Rt 527A (not Rt 522A) also known as Iron Ore Rd

  5. Sancho Panza said at 6:52 pm on October 29th, 2014:

    Thanks for straightening out the factual designation of the road. One might think that Manalapan officials would know which road goes where.

  6. John Curley was right all along on this stinky matter. said at 7:06 pm on October 29th, 2014:

    Mr. McEnery,

    Don’t you feel that if the County kept a higher standard of ethics–instead of lowering them–this mess would not have occurred in the first place?? John Curley was right on target with this matter when he smelled something was no good. As the article below states, if the Lucas family wanted to save this parcel from development, all they had to do was refrain from selling it.

    I think its wishful thinking on your part to move along on this matter. People must be held accountable for this, don’t you think?


  7. The person who screwed up said at 10:28 pm on October 29th, 2014:

    was Lucas! Not the people who simply want to save land- we gotta get past this class warfare/jealousy over the money the program came with. ( and, be reminded it’s money the county’s voters approved as two taxes on themselves, to fund it!) How was anyone supposed to know what the one guy did in his personal business?? It was about the farm, vetted over years, under the same rules every parcel goes through, on 3 levels! And, BTW,anybody who throws their own colleagues under the bus, for a headline and personal aggrandizement, especially when there’s no basis in fact, well, that’s for another discussion, another day… Again and again, we keep losing the focus: our people have done the job, their opponents have nothing positive to offer – in either service or good ideas- the choice, despite this nasty, well- funded attack campaign, is never clearer- it has to be,the next 6 days of telling the truth and beating back this crop of Dems- this county just has no need for their brand of “leadership!”

  8. Sancho Panza said at 11:15 pm on October 29th, 2014:

    @”How was anyone supposed to know what the one guy did in his personal business??”
    It’s called due diligence, and all adults are supposed to practice it. Especially those elected by the lumpen masses to be in charge of spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.

  9. When's the last time said at 6:41 am on October 30th, 2014:

    anyone was allowed to look at someone else’s personal mortgage application? Don’t be silly! The illusion created by these Dems is that something was wrong with the program- and any official who voted for that..if you have been keeping up, the law took care of the man’s personal illegalities: he will be roundly punished for them..if you can’t discern the difference, congratulations, they’ve succeeded in making you another of the low- info voters!

  10. Sancho Panza said at 3:48 pm on October 30th, 2014:

    Officials spending $1 million+ are not “anyone.” They have a duty, as the deal was contingent on the $1 million payoff, as much as the deficient lender.

  11. News said at 10:13 pm on October 30th, 2014:

    The scam that is prison

  12. Give it up- said at 7:53 am on October 31st, 2014:

    -if you don’t see the difference between what the individual did to himself, vs. the dozens of hardworking officials and staffs at the three levels who administer that program, well, am sad for you: at least law enforcement and the court seems to have been able to differentiate between the two!