In another surprise twist for the troubled Viola Estates condominium project, the developer’s counsel reversed himself and agreed to a standstill on unit sales for an additional 3 weeks, Matzav.com has learned exclusively. Court documents show that he strongly objected to a prior two-week standstill extension, from September 14th to September 29th, but was overruled by the court. The current extension would cause the almost two-month standstill to continue at least until October 20th, when plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order would be heard.
One issue is how Chief Building Inspector Anthony Mallia, a co-defendant in the case who was recently arrested on over 100 felony charges of giving preferential treatment to local developers, will respond to a request by the Department of Public Works to send the project back to the Planning Board for dozens of site plan deviations. Since Mr. Mallia was suspended from duties pending the resolution of his criminal case, it is unclear when any such response will be made.
Other signs indicate that the developer may be considering abandoning the project altogether. Documents in the litigation, brought by neighbors angered over alleged overbuilding by the developer, show that buyers have begun rescinding their contracts. Work on the project has shut down since August. A house the developer purchased adjacent to the property has just been put up for sale.
And more trouble may be brewing. A court-ordered inspection of the property was called for last week. The results of that inspection, which gave plaintiffs’ experts access to the interiors of the buildings for evidence of illegal accessory apartments and density violations, will no doubt be presented at the October 20th hearing.