Lieber, who owns 801-807 Palisade Ave., is in the midst of a pending federal civil lawsuit against Mayor Brian Stack, the city of Union City, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment. He alleges that he and his business partner have been repeatedly turned down to develop the property due to political favoritism.
The matter is scheduled to go before federal court in Newark on Oct. 3.
However, Lieber's recent troubles with the city have him awaiting another court date, after he failed to appear in court for a summonses issued on his property. Those summonses were never sent to his home address, but a warrant for his arrest did arrive at home.
"I was on vacation for the month of August, and last week when I picked up my mail I discovered I had a warrant out for my arrest for failure to appear in court," said Lieber. "I didn't know what they were talking about, and the following two pages said [that the Union City Health Department, issued summonses for failure to clean up the property in August of 2006 and July of 2007."
The peculiar thing for Lieber is that he never received these notices at his home address. As it turns out, the department taped the summonses to the door of the vacant Union City property, which Lieber only occasionally visits.
Lieber has been going back and forth from the property throughout the last year, especially because of his legal actions against the city. It was only this past summer that he first saw summonses dated August 2006, and another dated July 2007, attached to the door.
More peculiar still was that Lieber last visited the property in July of 2007 before going on vacation, and did not find either summons until he returned at the end of August.
"But they were certainly nice enough to mail the warrant to my home address," said Lieber. "[The city] knows where I live because the tax bill gets sent to my home and there has never been an issue. When I went to the property and saw the summons taped to the front door that was the first time I had seen them."
The clean up summons for July 2007 also didn't make sense to Lieber, since the last time he visited the property in July it was to clean up the property of debris, and other required yard and property maintenance.
The summonses were signed by Health Officer Dennis DeClemente, who could not be reached by press time.
"I even have a certified letter I wrote to DeClemente in 2006 that the property had been cleaned up [at that time], and that if there were any problems to let me know," said Lieber. "I never heard anything."
Lieber feels this recent action from the department has to do with his upcoming federal lawsuit court date.
"We're going to federal court on Oct. 3rd and all of a sudden this is coming up," said Lieber, who posted $500 bail for the warrant and is awaiting another court date on the matter.
"I find it very interesting that they would mail the summons to 801 Palisade Ave., and mail the warrant to my home, just a month away from [the federal case]."
Last March, Lieber and his business partner Patrick Chen of Palisade Towers, LLC, filed a federal civil lawsuit against the city, Mayor Stack, and the zoning board alleging that they were repeatedly turned down by the zoning board to develop their property at 801-807 Palisade Ave. because of interference from the mayor. They allege that the mayor tells the zoning board how to vote on developments.
Stack has been accused of asserting control over the decisions of the zoning board on many other occasions, and has always maintained that he has no influence over the board's decision making process. He has fought with members of the board on certain developments they approved in previous years.
Last March, a spokesman for Union City said that the lawsuit has no merit, and this was merely a case of an angry out-of-town developer who did not get his way.
The lawsuit also alleges that many other aggressive developments throughout the city have been approved by the zoning board, and that the developers who are awarded these contracts are allegedly contributors to Stack's political campaigns.
Lieber claims that through research he has found that approved developers made campaign contributions within two months prior or after their approvals. Meanwhile Lieber and Chen, who were denied twice by the board have never made contributions to Stack.
In addition, due to his frustration, Lieber also painted a sign on his property, which read, "Union City politicians want to steal this property. Your home is next!"
The sign was painted over a number of times, and when Lieber stayed to see who it was, he discovered it was members of the Department of Public Works, who said they were acting on orders to remove graffiti.
However, Lieber argued he was exercising his right to free speech, and after a discussion with the Chief of Police the sign has not been touched since.
Lieber will be going to federal court next month in Newark. Jessica Rosero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org