By Dan Moffett

Sandra Foschi owns and operates nine health and wellness centers in the New York City area and wants to expand the company to Manalapan.
When the old BB&T bank building on the northeast corner of Plaza del Mar went on the market earlier this year, Foschi thought it was the ideal place for another of her Health SOS businesses. The center could offer residents physical therapy, sports medicine, nutritional support, massages and acupuncture, pilates and yoga.
“I think it’s something the community needs,” she said. “There’s nothing like that here.”
In April, Foschi, through her Salute Realty LLC, paid $1.6 million for the property, the full asking price, and hoped to begin overhauling it quickly.
That isn’t happening, however. Foschi, a licensed physical therapist for close to 30 years, can’t begin using her property until town commissioners lift the moratorium on business development that they placed on the plaza in October.
Mayor Keith Waters says the town needs time to update and revise language in codes that were written decades ago.
During the commission meeting on May 23, Waters told Foschi that the moratorium needs to stay in place until commissioners “are sure we’ve covered all the bases for the town.” Besides commercial codes for the plaza, Waters said, the town has been reviewing zoning and building rules for residences in Manalapan’s south end.
“We will be as expeditious as we can be,” Waters told Foschi. The mayor said Foschi’s request to remove the moratorium will be put on the agenda for the commission’s next meeting on June 25 and discussed then.
Commissioners have already heard from Foschi’s lawyer, Holiday Hunt Russell of Fort Lauderdale. Russell sent a letter to Waters suggesting the town may be conflicted because commissioners in April had discussed buying the building and relocating the town’s Police Department there.
“As a litigation attorney of more than 25 years,” Russell wrote, “I have significant doubt that the town actually has the legal authority to prohibit previously lawful use of the property within its jurisdiction.”
He said the moratorium “is not a lawful exercise of the town’s zoning authority” because the town is dragging its feet and not moving with “due speed” to remove the ban. Russell called on the commission to end the moratorium, so Foschi can begin renovation.
Town Attorney Keith Davis said Russell is mistaken. “The town is proceeding with due speed, so it is absolutely acting lawfully,” Davis said.
Foschi told the commission she wants to work with the town: “I’d prefer to have cooperation rather than quarrels.”
“I’m happy to hear that,” Waters responded.
“I’m very cognizant of appearances and how it would look at the gateway of the town,” she said. “I’m willing to comply with everything that the town wants.”
In other business, the commission’s June 25 meeting will move to the town’s library to make way for renovation of the Town Hall chambers.
Plans call for redesigning the commission dais and seating arrangement to allow officials to face each other.
Town Manager Linda Stumpf said the renovation, which is expected to cost roughly $190,000, also includes a new audiovisual system. Stumpf said contractors hope to have the work done by early July.

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