Bradley Beach Land Use Board Approves Revised Plan for the Movie Theater

Shareholder Jennifer Krimko recently led the team in securing amended approval from the Bradley Beach Land Use Board permitting the Firm’s client to operate a theater with a café and bar in Bradley Beach. The unanimous approval granted on May 16, 2024, allows for the renovation of the existing theater building into one larger theater with 186 seats and one smaller theater room with flexible seating for up to 39 people, along with cafés and bar areas.

Krimko emphasized the advantages of the amended plan, noting that “there could be interior renovations that would be less expensive to construct, would be equally as ADA accessible, and allow the site to continue to function in the same way.” Read more in the Star News Group article.

As co-chair of the Firm’s Land Use Department, Krimko devotes her practice to all real estate matters, representing a wide variety of clients — from individuals to large developers — in all phases of governmental approvals before municipal, county, and state agencies.

David Byrne and Nicole Miller To Speak at Cooperator Expo New Jersey

Nearly 2000 attendees will soon gather at the Meadowlands for the 2024 Cooperator Expo, New Jersey’s biggest condo, HOA, and apartment expo. The one-day event is on June 5, 2024.

Partners David J. Byrne and Nicole D. Miller are slated to speak with Corner Property Management’s CEO, Tony Nardone. Their program will address unpaid assessments and running elections – two significant issues that buildings and association boards routinely encounter. The speakers will provide practical management strategies boards can implement to handle these challenges.

Ansell.Law is a proud longtime sponsor of this key industry event and is one of 250 exhibitors. This must-attend expo is geared towards property managers, board members, apartment building owners, shareholders, and real estate professionals. Elysa D. Bergenfeld, Stacey R. Patterson, Anthony J. D’Artiglio, and Jonathan D. Sherman will also be in attendance.

The attorneys in our Community Association Law practice provide dynamic, creative, and effective representation to condominiums, community associations, cooperatives, and homeowners associations. We work with clients in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Andrea B. White Obtains Qualification To Conduct Economic Mediation in Matters with Domestic Violence

Ansell.Law is pleased to announce that partner Andrea B. White has been added to the New Jersey Judiciary Roster of Mediators for Economic Mediation in family matters. Specifically qualified to handle cases involving domestic violence, she is among a select group of attorneys in the state qualified by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Andrea attained accreditation after completing specialized training tailored for these cases. All mediators on the Judiciary-approved roster have undergone 40 hours of comprehensive mediation training. Those with a domestic violence designation completed additional training that enables them to facilitate Economic Mediation in matters involving Domestic Violence.

A veteran family law attorney, Andrea cultivated her practice in the highly specialized discipline of divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, and domestic violence. In recognition of her many years of volunteer service, Andrea was recently appointed an emeritus member of the NJSBA’s Family Law Executive Committee. 

New Flood Disclosures Required for New Jersey Residential and Commercial Property Sales and Leases

By  Melanie J. Scroble and Jonathan D. Sherman

In addition to the many representations and warranties New Jersey property owners must provide when they seek to sell or lease their property, they will now need to make specific disclosures regarding the history of and potential for flooding on their land. As of March 20, 2024, P.L. 2023, c.93 requires all New Jersey residential and commercial property owners in the state to provide detailed disclosures regarding past flooding and existing and future flood risks when entering into new leases, lease renewals, sales, or exchanges involving their property. Failure to make these disclosures in any transaction  entered into after March 20th can have severe and costly consequences for sellers and landlords.

Under the new law, property owners must make these disclosures in one of two amended disclosure forms, depending on whether the transaction involves a sale or a lease.

For flooding issues, the primary responsibility of owners entering into either type of transaction involves: 

  • Disclosing whether the property has ever experienced flood damage, water seepage, or pooled water due to a natural flood event on the property, such as heavy rainfall, coastal storm surge, tidal inundation, or river overflow.
  • Determining and disclosing whether any or all of the property is located wholly or partially in the Special Flood Hazard Area (“100-year floodplain”) according to FEMA’s current flood insurance rate maps for the area or whether any or all of the property located wholly or partially in a Moderate Risk Flood Hazard Area (“500-year floodplain”) according to FEMA’s current flood insurance rate maps for the area. Owners can find this information in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Flood Risk Database.

The form for sale transactions includes additional disclosures regarding flood insurance and claims, as well as disaster flood assistance. 

Consequences of Non-Compliance

For landlords, failing to disclose that the leased property is located in a FEMA Special or Moderate Risk Flood Hazard Area gives the tenant the right to terminate the lease upon learning the property is, in fact, located in one of those hazard areas. Additionally, the landlord may be held liable for any damage to a tenant’s personal property, diminished habitability of the leased premises, or limited or denied access to the leased premises due to flooding.

Similarly, a seller’s failure to make the necessary disclosures will release the buyer from its obligations under the sale contract unless and until the seller complies with the law’s disclosure requirements.

If you have questions or concerns about these new required flood disclosures, please contact Melanie Scroble or Jonathan Sherman at Ansell.Law.

After a Hard-Fought Trial, Ansell.Law’s Lawrence H. Shapiro and Kelsey M. Barber Obtain $389,000 Judgment for Stepdad After Stepson Falsely Claimed Money Was a Gift, Not a Loan as Agreed.

When a stepson attempted to take advantage of his loving stepfather’s generosity by claiming that a $389,000 loan was actually a gift he did not have to repay, Lawrence H. Shapiro and Kelsey M. Barber of the Firm’s Litigation Department successfully vindicated the stepdad, obtaining a judgment in his favor for the entire loan amount, plus interest. 

The heated dispute arose after the stepdad and his wife decided to downsize and sell the family home, where the adult stepson and his college student brother lived. As the stepson and his brother needed a new place to live, the stepdad kindly offered the stepson $389,000 to purchase a townhome. 

At all times, the stepfather intended the money to be a loan, an arrangement that was repeatedly acknowledged by the stepson in contemporaneous emails and text messages in which he discussed repayment plans, asked for forbearance when money was tight, and offered to forward rent payments his brother was making to pay for his share of the townhome. Notwithstanding the clear agreement and understanding of the parties, the stepson refused to sign a note and mortgage at the closing of the townhome. 

The suit came about after the stepfather and mother got divorced. The stepson used the end of their marriage as an excuse to renege on his obligations by claiming the loan was, in fact, a gift.

During the two-day trial, the Ansell team was able to conclusively demonstrate that the money was a loan through the contemporaneous documentation and by completely undermining the stepson’s credibility as a witness. Accordingly, the Court entered an Order for Judgment in favor of the stepfather for the full loan amount plus interest.

Your Business is Poised for Real Growth — Is Franchising Your Business Concept a Viable Option for You?

By Roy W. Hibberd

If you are a successful small business owner, you may know the feeling. Things are going well, and your concept seems to have drawn consumer interest and found traction. Your customer base and revenues are growing, and demand is exceeding your capacity to keep pace. All signs point towards expansion and scaling up. You start to consider your options for growth, and franchising seems like an attractive way to transform and grow your business to a regional or even national brand and presence. 

And while you may generally know what a franchise is – you likely patronize and drive by multiple franchised businesses every day – you have only the haziest idea of what starting and operating a franchise involves. Even less clear is whether franchising makes sense for your business model and long-term goals or whether other paths may better suit your circumstances and objectives.

While the decision as to whether, when, and how to expand your business is one that you should only make in consultation with experienced counsel, here are some basic facts and considerations about franchising that can help guide your next steps.

What Does It Mean To Franchise a Business? 

You started your business as an entrepreneur, and at its core, franchising is an approach that allows other entrepreneurs to follow in your footsteps and take the laboring oar in expanding your brand’s footprint. It is a symbiotic arrangement that offers benefits for both the franchisor/parent company (you) and the franchisee (the individual or entity buying the rights to operate under your brand).

While franchising, like any business model, comes with risks and is not necessarily appropriate for every enterprise, it is a well-established and widespread arrangement. According to the International Franchise Association, there were over 800,000 individual franchise establishments in the U.S. in 2023, employing approximately 8.7 million people and producing roughly $860 billion in economic output. 

When a business is franchised, the franchisor grants the franchisee the right to use its trademarks, branding, and operational procedures. This includes everything from the products or services offered to the interior decor of a retail location and marketing materials. Franchisors provide extensive support to franchisees, including training programs, operational assistance, marketing support, and access to proprietary systems and resources.

However, while the franchisee gains access to these assets, they must comply with strict standards set forth by the franchisor to maintain consistency across all locations. Franchisors exert significant influence over various aspects of the franchisee’s business operations, including pricing, product offerings, branding, marketing strategies, and quality standards.

For the franchisor, a franchise arrangement is a means to rapidly expand its brand footprint with minimal capital investment and without bearing the full burden of establishing and managing each new location. The franchisor earns revenue through franchise fees, ongoing royalties, and possibly even sales of equipment or supplies to franchisees. Additionally, since franchisees are responsible for day-to-day operations, the franchisor can focus on core business activities such as innovation and brand development.

What Is the Difference Between Licensing a Brand and Franchising a Brand?

Owners looking to grow their brand and business may consider licensing rather than franchising. However, there are significant differences between these two models, primarily regarding the licensing company’s level of control and involvement with the licensee, —  the entity receiving the right to use the brand and related processes and procedures. 

Like franchising, licensing involves granting permission to use a brand’s name, logo, and intellectual property for specific products, services, or applications. In exchange, the licensee pays upfront licensing fees or ongoing royalties based on sales volume or brand usage.  

Unlike franchising, a licensing arrangement does not involve providing the licensee with a complete business model or operational support. While licensors may offer limited support to licensees in terms of branding requirements, marketing materials, and quality control standards, licensees typically have far more decision-making autonomy than franchisees, which means licensors have far less control over quality or how their brand is being used than they would in a franchise arrangement.  

Importantly, the legal and regulatory challenges involved in franchising are significantly more complex and burdensome than licensing. Franchises are heavily regulated and scrutinized and involve detailed and specific offering requirements for franchise disclosure documents, agreements, and operating manuals akin to those associated with offering securities. The Federal Trade Commission regulates franchising across the U.S., and 14 states have their own additional requirements. Franchisors must also provide ongoing support and guidance to franchisees to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations regarding everything from employment to health and safety standards.

How To Look at Your Business When Considering Franchising

As noted, franchising may not be the optimal path for all expanding businesses. As you consider the suitability of franchising, consider these factors: 

  • Established and Proven Concept: Your business should have already demonstrated success as an independent venture with a track record of profitability and a distinctive concept that offers a competitive advantage.
  • Registered Brand: Your brand/logo should be nationally registered, and as this process will take at least 12-18 months, this should be done early.
  • Scalability and Standardization: Your concept/model should be capable of having well-defined processes, systems, and operational procedures that can be easily replicated across different locations, markets, and economic conditions without losing the core essence that made it successful. Documented manuals, training programs, and support mechanisms will be essential for maintaining consistency and facilitating franchisee success.
  • Market Demand and Growth Potential: Carefully analyze the market demand for your product or service and evaluate the competitive environment to determine whether it is saturated or has room for sustainable growth. 
  • Profitability and ROI: You can’t evaluate franchising without crunching the numbers and assessing your concept’s potential profitability and return on investment (ROI). Calculate the initial investment required, ongoing operational costs, and projected revenues. 

In our next post, we will discuss the first practical steps to take when launching a franchise and how you and your attorney can position your business for sustained growth and success. If you would like to discuss franchising or other avenues for expanding your business, contact Roy Hibberd at Ansell Grimm & Aaron.

Partner Carol Truss Receives Monmouth Bar Association’s 2024 Attorney Excellence Award

Ansell.Law is thrilled to announce that Carol J. Truss has received the Monmouth Bar Association’s 2024 Attorney Excellence Award in Real Estate and Land Development. Recognizing her distinguished legal career, the award was presented to Truss on April 18, 2024, at the Breakers in Spring Lake.  

About the Award

The Attorney Excellence Awards, determined by peers in the legal community, are given annually to celebrate an attorney’s success and leadership within their practice area. Award recipients have earned the respect of their colleagues, adhered to the highest standards of professionalism and ethics, and supported the Monmouth Bar Association.

An Impressive Career

A partner at the Firm, Truss devotes her practice to commercial and residential real estate. She handles all facets of real estate law, including commercial and residential title transfers and refinances, commercial leasing, and residential and commercial property management matters. The purchase and sale of small businesses and the general representation of such companies are also a significant part of her practice, including selling, transferring, and using liquor licenses.

Not only a celebrated attorney, Truss also enjoys a legacy of volunteering in the legal community. She is a past president and active member of the Monmouth Bar Association. She is also a past chair and longtime member of the Real Estate and Land Development Committee. Truss is a past chair and lifetime member of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law Section Board of Consultors.

Leigh Oliver Named Justice Daniel J. O’Hern Award Recipient

Ansell.Law is delighted to announce that Leigh T. Oliver has been named a Justice Daniel J. O’Hern Award recipient for her excellent pro bono work in a parental alienation case. The award will be presented to her on April 18, 2024, at the Breakers in Spring Lake. An associate at the Firm, Leigh concentrates her practice on matrimonial and family law. 

About the Award

Justice Daniel J. O’Hern, a New Jersey Supreme Court Justice from 1981-2000, also served as Trustee of the Monmouth County Legal Aid Society. He dedicated much of his life to pro bono work and public service. The Monmouth County Legal Aid Society has honored his memory since 2009 by presenting an annual award in his name to “a lawyer or lawyers who made a significant contribution to the justice system through pro bono efforts on behalf of residents of Monmouth County and who demonstrated professional excellence through their altruistic service to the indigent and the community during their career.”  

Reuniting a Father With His Child

The case that caught the attention of the MCLAS concerns a severe case of parental alienation. Leigh was retained in mid-2023 to represent a loving father who has been prevented from having meaningful time with his daughter since separating from his wife several years ago. Kept in the dark about where his daughter attended school, his attempts to speak with or see his daughter were met with silence, sometimes for months at a time. The father was denied alone time with his daughter and could see her only during sparse outings that included his estranged wife.

Unable to afford an attorney, Leigh’s client was afraid to navigate the legal system independently. Upon receiving the pro bono assignment, Leigh initially attempted to negotiate a settlement. The adversary refused to participate in settlement discussions so Leigh filed a complaint for custody and parenting time in New Jersey Superior Court. Two “consent” conferences were held at the court’s behest in September and November 2023. While a permanent resolution was still in progress, Leigh determined where her client’s daughter attended school and established a temporary parenting time agreement. Following recent negotiations, the parties have agreed on the case’s central issue: custody and parenting time.

Through Leigh’s thoughtful and thorough approach to crafting the order, her client had a very successful outcome. In family law, cases often require litigants to return to court multiple times before receiving the desired result. With this settlement, Leigh is hopeful that her client will not have to return to Court to have parenting time with his daughter. The Firm proudly congratulates Leigh for receiving this prestigious award and for providing legal services that helped members of our community.

Ansell.Law Welcomes Gary Eidelstein

Ansell.Law is pleased to announce that Gary P. Eidelstein has joined the Firm as of counsel. As a Commercial Real Estate Department member, Eidelstein brings decades of deep industry knowledge, having held roles in financial institutions and real estate development in addition to his legal practice.

“Gary has enjoyed a tremendous career devoted to commercial real estate, and we are excited to have him join the Firm,” said Shareholder and Department Co-Chair David Zolotorofe. “We’re thrilled to have Gary, a multi-talented attorney in this industry. His holistic view of commercial real estate – financial, development, and asset value – enhances the value we bring to our clients every day.”

Licensed in Florida, Eidelstein is also adept at navigating New Jersey and New York projects. He brings over fifty years of experience to the Firm.

Recent Decision Finding CTA Unconstitutional Casts Doubt on Its Fate

By Nicole D. Miller

As we recently discussed in this blog post, homeowner and condominium associations (“Community Associations”), are subject to the detailed and complicated reporting requirements of the federal Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). The compliance deadlines for Community Associations to disclose their “beneficial ownership information” are approaching. However, a March 1 decision by a U.S. district court judge in Alabama, issued just 60 days after the CTA’s effective date, has called into question the ultimate enforceability and constitutionality of the law.

In National Small Business United v. Yellen, Judge Liles C. Burke granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that “the CTA is unconstitutional because it ‘exceeds the Constitution’s limits on the legislative branch and lacks a sufficient nexus to any enumerated power to be a necessary or proper means of achieving Congress’ policy goals.'”

Critically, the court’s order enjoining enforcement of the CTA applies only to the plaintiffs, including the National Small Business Association (NSBA) and its approximately 60,000 members. While the decision is limited to the plaintiffs in the case, the decision is seen as a positive one from the perspective of Community Associations as it sets groundwork for other courts to follow suit concerning enforceability. Community Associations throughout the country have serious concerns about the intrusive reporting requirements of the CTA given that those who serve on the boards of associations are volunteer homeowners. The extensive and invasive reporting requirements of the CTA are likely to deter participation on Community Association boards. This decision provides some hope to Community Associations that the law will ultimately not be enforceable and/or will be amended as to those required to report.

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Department of Justice and FinCEN, the government agency tasked with the CTA’s implementation and enforcement, quickly filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Whatever the appellate court decides, there is a decent chance that the CTA’s fate will wind up in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Until then, or there is an amendment to the CTA, Community Associations should presume they will need to report their beneficial ownership information to FinCEN by the dates outlined in our earlier blog post

For further information and assistance with your Community Association’s CTA compliance, please contact Nicole Miller in Ansell.Law’s Community Association practice group.