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Montclair Governing Body releases statement regarding Martin Schwartz's comments

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The Township Council issues this response to a statement made by Martin Schwartz to the Planning Board at its September 9, 2019 meeting. The Township Council and administration are deeply concerned with Mr. Schwartz’s assertions and suggestions of misconduct on the part of elected officials, Township staff, and members of land use boards, and with the gross factual errors in his statement. To begin, the Township Council denies any wrongdoing by its members involving the 37 Orange Road project. Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence that any Township employee or board member acted to further private interests rather than the public good. Mr. Schwartz’s claim that he arrived at his conclusion “after talking to almost every Council member” falsely implies that Council members agreed with his allegations, which is simply not true. At no time has the Council or administration alleged or suggested that any improper conduct occurred with respect to the property at issue.

Moreover, contrary to Mr. Schwartz’s assertions and insinuations, the Manager did conduct an investigation as to the circumstances of publication and posting of the proposed redevelopment plan amendment, and as to whether anyone, Township official, employee or member of the public, had interfered or attempted to interfere with the process. The investigation resulted in no finding of wrongdoing, which was in fact communicated to the Council by the Manager, although the details of the investigation remained confidential.

Previously, in March 2019, Mr. Schwartz made many of the same speculations and charges of misconduct in an email to members of the governing body and administration. As required by long-standing New Jersey procedure, his message was promptly referred to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The same was done with the video of Mr. Schwartz’s September 9 remarks and

a written version of those remarks sent to Council members today by Mr. Schwartz. Because the matter is in the hands of the Prosecutor, the Township will have no further comment at this time.

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