White Castle has sued Lacey Township for the restrictions the Planning Board placed on its hours of operation.
to be built at the intersection of Route 9 and Sunrise Boulevard but rather than being open 24-hours, as the company had sought, the Planning Board restricted the hours of operation to 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
“The board did what’s best for the local area,” Committeeman and Planning Board member Gary Quinn said. “We stand by the decision we made.”
The Planning Board previously cited a 24-hour operation as being disruptive to the community.
“It’s important to the town. It’s important to the residents and it has worked well with other fast food restaurants,” Quinn said in June, when the application was approved.
White Castle had asked for an extension to 2 a.m. but that’s when the bars in Lacey Township close, which is what the Planning Board wanted to avoid, he said then.
“We want more business to come in but not at the expense of the taxpayer,” Quinn said.
Operating 24 hours, seven days a week is White Castle’s business model, Director of Restaurant Operations Thomas Bray said, adding that he could not speak specifically to the litigation.
“When we go into a community, we operate 24 hours,” he said. “We want to be a part of the community. It’s a great place to be.”
As a business in town, White Castle will bring a lot to the community including full time jobs with good benefits, charity and taxes, he said.
"I am beyond disappointed that a company who said they care about the community and saw the dismay of numerous residents present at their hearing would sue and insist on staying open 24 hours a day. Very sad," Resident Regina Discenza said.
The township was notified of the lawsuit on Monday, Sept. 10. Board Attorney Joseph Coronato does not anticipate getting a court date until November and arguing the case until March or April.
Bray could not comment on whether White Castle will move forward with construction or wait until a settlement is reached.