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Chatham Couple Appeals Public Easement Decision

Lawrence and Sarah Fechtner seek to have Township Committee's decision to vacate the footpath overturned.

Chatham Couple Appeals Public Easement Decision
A Chatham Township couple has filed an appeal to have the governing body's April decision to vacate a controversial public easement overturned.

Lawrence and Sarah Fechtner filed the appeal on June 18 in state Superior Court in Morristown.

"This easement is for the right of public for use for foot travel as stated in the official deeds of record," the Fechtners wrote in a statement. "The private property is 'subject to the easement for public use, for foot passage only.' With this ordinance, the township is giving a walkway easement designated for the benefit of the public away to private property owners forever.

"This easement is a valuable public asset which would serve as a vitally needed connection to our local schools and athletic field as well as enhance the enjoyment of our beautiful town."

The Township Committee voted 3-1 in April to vacate the 700-foot long and 8-feet wide footpath between Linden Lane and Pine Street.

The Fechtners, who had collected more than 100 signatures on a petition against the ordinance, felt the township's process was tainted. The couple was frustrated to not have the opportunity to respond to retired township attorney Carl Woodward's findings on the issue.

"We believe that an appeal would enable a judge to review the ordinance impartially and make a decision based on the legal merits in a fair hearing," the Fechtners wrote in the statement. 

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