An appeals court this month reversed a finding by a trial court that Montville Township improperly took access to a well on farmland owned by Lotta Lettuce without paying required compensation.
The farm, Lotta Lettuce, claimed the township owes it hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, township attorney Martin Murphy said.
While the appellate court reversed the earlier finding of "inverse condemnation," it upheld the trial court's finding that because the land is preserved farmland the state DEP was able to override a Montville ordinance regulating the well.
The township's ordinance "sought to control access to the aquifer where our water supply comes from," Murphy said.
Montville's attorney gave a report on the appellate court's June 12 decision at a Township Committee meeting Tuesday. The case started in 2003 and has garnered media attention over the years, including a feature on "Fox and Friends."
The case was handled by outside counsel for Montville.
"In my opinion ... this is a successful result for the municipality," Murphy said. He said there's a question as to whether Lotta Lettuce will try bring it to the Supreme Court.