SEA BRIGHT — The owner of Tommy’s Tavern + Tap said his lawsuit could easily be settled if borough officials just would pay his legal fees. But that doesn’t seem likely to happen.
Thomas Bonfiglio, who owns the popular restaurant and bar, 1030 Ocean Avenue, and last month brought suit against the borough, alleged the Borough Council had recently met to discuss amending the noise ordinance, which is the crux of his suit. If they agreed to make those changes, Bonfiglio said Tuesday, and reimbursed him for his legal fees thus far, he would drop his suit.
The result, however, is “They don’t seem receptive to it,” he said.
“I guess they feel it’s not their money,” and feel no obligation to local taxpayers, Bonfiglio charged. “So, we’re going to continue to fight it,” with the lawsuit proceeding.
Bonfiglio, a Monmouth Beach resident and managing partner of Tommy’s, along with the two limited partnerships operating the business, filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court in July alleging the borough’s noise ordinance was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable,” overly ambiguous, goes beyond state statute, and appeared to disproportionately target his business, having a detrimental effect on it. The suit also charges borough officials communicated inappropriately among themselves when discussing the situation.
The suit seeks a rollback of the ordinance as well as his legal fee reimbursement.
Officials have denied the allegations Bonfiglio has put forth, believing the noise ordinance was enacted to clarify the previous regulations to apply it objectively to all local businesses.
Bonfiglio maintained the council had met last week to discuss amending the noise ordinance and seemed amenable to making the changes he’s sought, according to discussions with his attorney, Robert Muñoz.
Muñoz did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. The borough council has not taken any formal action to change the recently enacted noise ordinance.
But the real sticking point for Bonfiglio it seems is seeking restitution for the fees he’s paid his lawyer, “since I shouldn’t have had to bring the case in the first place.”
In response to Bonfiglio’s assertions, borough attorney Roger McLaughlin said this week, “We intend to vigorously defend against his lawsuit and it’s the borough’s position that we have done absolutely nothing that has caused him any harm and he has absolutely no entitlement to be paid anything.”
Bonfiglio declined to say how much his legal fees are, simply indicating “It’s not a significant amount.”
“It’s going to cost them a lot more,” with the litigation, Bonfiglio warned.
Bonfiglio has been operating Tommy’s for two years.
This article was first published in the August 10-17, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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