A man whose home backs up to the Manasquan River Golf Club in Brielle, New Jersey, devised a way to keep golf balls out of his yard. That solution, however, has resulted in an ongoing legal battle.
According to a story in the Asbury Park Press, homeowner Ron Dana has now been ordered by a Monmouth County judge to remove the 65-foot safety net he put up in his backyard as protection against the golf balls flying into his property.
Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Katie Gummer issued the ruling Feb. 12 in the legal battle between Dana, Brielle borough officials and the club’s owners and neighbors, according to Ben Montenegro, a Brielle borough attorney.
The judge set a March 12 date for the golf net’s removal, but Dana could also appeal that. The net still stands.
“Simply stated, no Brielle property owner has the legal right to erect a structure, without legally required permits or approvals, that violates the Borough’s zoning ordinance,” Monenegro said. “In this case, the fence on the subject property was more than 10 times the legal height allowed. The Borough is appreciative of the Court’s ruling in this matter that an ongoing violation of the Borough’s zoning ordinance could not be allowed.”
According to the APP story, Dana’s net has been in place since 2018. It’s a 65-foot-by-130-foot netted structure, and one that Dana built without any permits or official approvals. Because he faces four violations of the municipal code (the township limits fencing to between 6 and 12 feet, depending on the fence), he requested a variance to allow the net to remain while neighbors started a protest.
Last October, the Brielle Planning Board denied his request for a variance. The borough then filed a lawsuit against Dana on Dec. 10.
There is another lawsuit, too – a counter-suit that Dana brought Dec. 17 against the borough and the golf club in which he claimed the golf balls that landed on his property amount to trespassing. The lawsuit contends that a change to the 17th tee at Manasquan River Golf Club has allowed “an invasion of golf balls” to affect his property and “exacerbated the number of golf balls” on his land.
That lawsuit is ongoing, but the judge ruled Dana can’t allow the net to stand while it is decided.
Neighbors have been calling for its removal since last summer with a petition that has more than 200 names.
“The presence of this hideous mega-structure directly conflicts with the quaint and environmentally friendly image that the borough of Brielle prides itself on, as indicated on the borough’s own website,” the petition states.
Montenegro said if Dana does not remove the net he could face fines or jail time as a contempt of court violation.
There is also a third case filed by Dana in the Superior Court’s law division. It is an appeal of the original Planning Board variance denial. That case is unaffected by these rulings and is still pending.