The Catholic Diocese of Trenton – not the township – decided to shut down the Visitation Relief Center this week, Brick Mayor John Ducey said.
The relief center, which was created during Superstorm Sandy and grew to become a major hub for local charitable efforts, never received a certificate of occupancy or various operating permits, but the township, Ducey said, was working with the organization to bring the building into compliance. But a land use official from the diocese told the township on Friday to cancel an inspection set for Oct. 26.
“He came here from Trenton, went out there himself, and then he called downstairs to cancel the inspection, saying there was no work that was done so they were going to fail,” said Ducey.
The center housed groups that distributed food, clothing, construction supplies and other items for those in need. It also housed an environmental cleanup group as well as the offices for Save Barnegat Bay. The center was located in Colony Farm Market building, adjacent to Visitation Roman Catholic Church.
Though township officials say they did not order the closure – Ducey said he personally attended a fundraiser for the center last week – the building has had permit issues dating back years.
“There were a number of violations dating back to 2013 that were never taken care of,” said Ducey.
Apparently, he said, work that was required to be completed for the building to be issued a certificate of occupancy were never performed.
“The diocese was concerned about the safety of the tenants, the workers, the people who volunteer and the people who come there for their services,” said Ducey.
A VRC coordinator did not respond to a request from Shorebeat for comment. A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Trenton was not immediately available.