Neighbors sue Allaire Community Farm over construction project

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Neighbors of Allaire Community Farm in Wall Township have filed a lawsuit to stop construction that is ongoing at the farm.

JoAnn and Sean Burney have programs on their farm to help disabled and autistic children. IN order to expand into a year-round program, they moved to a new space next door to their old farm and have started several construction projects. But their neighbors are unhappy.

"It’s just been a nightmare…we’re into our eighth month at this point. And all we want to do is make a positive impact on our community,” JoAnn says.

The construction include a pavilion for their teaching program, tractor shed and shelter for the animals. The Burneys say that the projects need to be completed sooner than later.

"Winter is fast approaching and we need to be able to protect the animals. We could lose animals come winter without having the proper shelter,” says Sean.

RELATED: Mental Health Awareness Day held at Allaire Community Farm
RELATED: Farm provides therapy for children with special needs

But neighbors have filed a lawsuit saying, “The proposed development is not a farm.  The development, which would actually destroy the farm, is a destination venue involving 14-buildings."

The lawsuit also says that the owners are violating the neighbors’ “right to quiet enjoyment of their homes."

One neighbor, Ellen Steinlauf, whose house is located nearby, sent an email to the family saying, 

"There are a lot of us folks who will be aggressively doing everything we can to limit the uses that are being planned..."

The Burneys says that on several occasions Steinlauf has blasted loud music toward the farm in retaliation.

"For our autistic population and for our animals that becomes very disturbing and so it's just mean. It's just mean spirited,” says JoAnn.

And there have been other attempts.

"Just on cutting trees they called the [Department of Environmental Protection], saying we are clear cutting wetlands.  They came, it was unfounded,” says Sean.

The Burneys say that they hope the attempts to drive them out stop. They say that the farm is a commercial farm, so everything they're doing, from having a petting zoo to building, is allowed. They say that they have the township permits to prove it.

Neighbors have also named Wall Township in the lawsuit filed against Allaire Community Farms.  

The Burneys say they hope the lawsuit doesn't mean the end to the services they provide for children in need.

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