WEST LONG BRANCH — A decision made last month to remove Monmouth Park Corporate Center from Zoning Officer Jerome Donlon’s jurisdiction turns out to be unnecessary.
As Donlon phrased it on Tuesday morning, "I’m just leaving. I don’t like saying that I resigned. I don’t like saying that I quit. Both have such negative connotations. And I’m not a quitter."
On Tuesday right before he turned in his keys, Donlon said that leaving was not meant as a slight to the members of the governing body who supported his efforts, namely Councilman Joseph Woolley. "He has been an upstanding, forthright representative of the people and a great help and source of support to me," he said.
"There are also other council people who have been wonderful. They know who they are. The work environment here just became hostile. My hands became tied, and there were too many roadblocks placed in my way. I just couldn’t get the job done the thorough way I wanted to — the right way."
Zoning officer since 1996, Donlon reiterated that the hostility he referred to was, he believed, the result of his involvement and relentless pursuit of what he knew to be the right thing in the controversial Corporate Center helipad trial. Complaints that ensued two summers ago surrounding the site manifested themselves in 14 zoning summonses issued for improper use of the site. Specifically, the owner of the property, GB Limited, was cited for expanding — without permits — use of the pad as an accessory for tenants of the facility to use as a commuter helipad with multiple daily flights to and from New York City.
In a previous interview Mayor Paul Zambrano referred to the site and situation as "a ratable worth keeping through compromise."
The compromise was a resolution passed in December 2000 restricting flights and flight patterns in an effort to appease neighboring Oceanport residents who complained the helicopters were creating a hazardous situation and ruining their quality of life.
Before that resolution though, Donlon had issued the summons to GB for having a commuter parking lot to allow those taking the flights into New York to have a place to park.
Donlon said he thinks that summons is what probably prompted the latest edict at a June council meeting removing him from all activity concerning the Corporate Center and assigning a special officer to the site.
Now that the helipad issue is resolved, Donlon says, "My work here is finished. I will continue with any litigation pending, but one excuse after another to keep me from protecting John Q. Public is just reason enough to go. I must say, though, that it feels good to hear from the residents affected by the helipad for so long that my efforts were appreciated. Little things like that make me know I’ve done the right thing and will continue to."
Donlon remains zoning officer in Shrewsbury Borough and Ocean Township. He will continue his work in those communities. He also sits on the Borough Council and the Planning Board of Tinton Falls.
— Elaine Van Develde