SECAUCUS, NJ-Starwood Heller, based in Edgewater, NJ, has proposed a $40-million shopping center on a 35-acre site, and has been talking to big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club to anchor it. The developer has been meeting with officials from this community and from the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission, seeking the necessary approvals.

But the proposed project needs public access, and the only way is an 80-foot right-of-way through adjacent property owned by Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Industries. Heller officials say that Hartz won’t cede the right-of-way, so they’ve gone to court to get it.

Starwood Heller has filed suit in New Jersey Superior Court over the matter. The developer has added the HMDC to the suit, claiming that the agency gave Hartz development permits back in the 1980s under the condition that it would allow public access for future projects. Starwood Heller is saying, in effect, that the HMDC itself isn’t living up to its end of the bargain.

The parties involved won’t comment because of the pending legal action. According to one source with knowledge of the situation, Hartz itself has been talking to Wal-Mart and others about setting up shop on its own property.

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