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JEFFREY SURENIAN WINS STICKEL AWARDFred Stickel The New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys has conferred its 2015 Fred G. Stickel Memorial Award on Jeffrey R. Surenian.  The annual award, which is given by the Institute to a member of the New Jersey bar who has demonstrated excellence in the field of public sector law and has contributed time and effort to advance the interests of municipal law, was presented to Surenian at the Institute’s Annual Meeting held in Atlantic City on November 19, 2015.

The award is named in honor of Fred G. Stickel, III, who practiced municipal law for over fifty years and was counsel to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities for many years. As a prominent member of the public sector bar, Fred Stickel donated countless hours to advance the orderly operation of local governments in New Jersey.

Mr. Surenian served as law clerk to the Honorable Eugene D. Serpentelli, J.S.C., during his first year of appointment as the Mount Laurel trial judge for the central portion of the state by former Chief Justice Wilentz.  Since that clerkship over 30 years ago, Mr. Surenian has distinguished himself academically and in practice in the affordable housing arena, and has earned a reputation for integrity. His achievements include obtaining a favorable Appellate Division decision preserving the “doctrine of temporary immunity” to protect municipalities from affordable housing lawsuits, securing the right for towns to secure to affordable housing credits for units not subject to a deed restriction, obtaining a defensible cap of 1,000-units on any municipality’s “fair share” obligation, and defeating builder’s remedy lawsuits on a variety of grounds. He has secured dismissals of builder’s remedy lawsuits on the grounds that the developer failed to negotiate in good faith prior to filing a lawsuit, and by proving that the developer was not the “catalyst for change.” Mr. Surenian has also defeated builder’s remedy lawsuits on the grounds that the subject property was not suitable for the proposed project. His success in preserving the immunity doctrine proved to be valuable in persuading the Supreme Court in 2015 to give municipalities the same measure of protection in a court proceeding that they enjoyed under COAH’s jurisdiction before COAH ceased to function. He has authored numerous treatises and articles on affordable housing law in New Jersey.  In addition to representing municipalities throughout the State on affordable housing matters, Mr. Surenian also serves as an Associate Counsel to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, on whose behalf he recently helped secure a ruling from the Appellate Division preventing the State from unfairly seizing municipal Mount Laurel trust funds.

Previous recipients of the Stickel Award have been Gordon D. Griffin, Michael A. Pane, William J. Kearns, Jr., Stuart Koenig, Edward J. Buzak, Edwin Schmierer, John L. Kraft, Thomas W. Dunn, Robert F. Renaud, Martin T. Durkin, Robert T. Regan, John Gillespie, Kris Hadinger and Trishka Waterbury Cecil.



NJLM Executive Director, William G. Dressel, Jr., was feted at the March 31, 2015 dinner meeting of NJILGA’s officers and trustees in New Brunswick.  NJILGA President Bob Renaud, and Senior Trustee and League General Counsel Bill Kearns, presented Dressel with a Resolution of the Institute honoring him on the occasion of his impending retirement after 41 years of distinguished service to the League, and expressing the Institute’s deep appreciation, as a League affiliate, for his dedication and many achievements on behalf of New Jersey’s municipalities.  See NJILGA Resolution attached. 


Michael A Pane Sr
Roger J. McLaughlin

The Michael Pane Award was presented to Roger J. McLaughlin of Wall.  Established by the Pane Family and the New Jersey State league of Municipalities, the award is given in honor of Michael A. Pane, Sr., who was the long-time editor of the Municipal Law Review, president and trustee of the New Jersey Institute of Municipal Attorneys, counsel to the New Jersey Association of Municipal Clerks, counsel to the League of Municipalities and author of the New Jersey Practice Series, Local Government Law volumes.  It honors a municipal professional who exemplifies the highest standards of ethics and whose work has significantly enhanced the integrity of local government. 

Mr. McLaughlin is a graduate of Georgetown University and the Fordham University School of Law, and has maintained a law practice in Monmouth County since 1978.  The Senior Partner of the firm of McLaughlin Stauffer & Shaklee, P.C., he has served as counsel in various capacities to numerous public entities and local governing bodies, including  the Township of Manalapan, the Borough of Sea Bright, Wall Township, Freehold Township, Roosevelt Borough, the Freehold Township Planning Board, the Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Agency and many others.   He is a member of the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys, the New Jersey and American State Bar Association, the Monmouth County Bar Association, is Chairman of the Local Government Committee of the Monmouth County Bar Association and has served on an advisory committee the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.  Mr. McLaughlin has also been active participant in many community and charitable organizations in Wall Township and Monmouth County.  He has lectured on subjects related to municipal law, land use and zoning, and has served as an expert witness in those fields. 


William M. Cox
Kerry Higgins

The William M. Cox Award, established to recognize an attorney or judge who has become distinguished in the field of land use law was awarded to Kerry E. Higgins of McKenna, Dupont, Higgins, Stone of Red Bank. 

Kerry Higgins' practice focuses on Municipal Law.  She is currently the Municipal Attorney for Freehold Borough.  Her Municipal Law experience includes working directly with County Counsel as well as attorneys for several municipalities.  She handles general municipal matters including drafting of ordinances and resolutions, local public contract law, tax appeals, condemnations and foreclosures, redevelopment projects, Mount Laurel Regional Contribution Agreements, employment activities, civil service regulations and matters involving NJDEP and the Public Utilities Commission. 

Ms. Higgins has a large residential and commercial real estate practice.  She also focuses on land use and development, representing both developers and municipal land use boards.  Her civil litigation practice includes estate litigation, chancery, personal injury, commercial and contracts litigation.

Ms. Higgins is currently Freehold Borough Municipal Attorney and Sea Bright Planning/ Zoning Board Attorney.  She is a Member, Board of Trustees, of the CentraState Healthcare Foundation.  She is also a former Municipal Prosecutor and Millstone Zoning Board attorney.

Ms. Higgins is a graduate of Villanova University and the Villanova University School of Law.  She is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association and is President-Elect of the Monmouth Bar Association.


John C. Gillespie NJILGA 2nd Vice President John C. Gillespie has been named the 2015 recipient of the Burlington County Bar Association’s Haines Award, the association’s highest honor.  Mr. Gillespie was recognized at a reception in his honor on April 22, 2015 at the Medford Village Country Club in Medford, New Jersey.

Created in 2007 in honor of the late Judge Martin L. Haines, the Haines Award was established to recognize those who best exemplify the qualities of personal and professional integrity, devotion to the legal profession and legal scholarship, and dedication to the justice system and the people of Burlington County.

Mr. Gillespie is the Chair of Parker McCay’s Municipal and Government Department.  He concentrates his practice in the areas of municipal law, governmental defense litigation, land use and tax appeals.  Gillespie serves as Municipal Attorney in Chesterfield, Cinnaminson and Evesham in Burlington County, and has previously served as Township Attorney to three other municipalities in Burlington County.  He is Associate Legal Counsel to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities; Third Circuit Regional Vice President of the International Municipal Lawyers Association; and a member of the New Jersey Planning Officials.

Gillespie is the 2011 recipient of the Michael A. Pane Award given by the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys (NJILGA), and the 2010 recipient of NJILGA’s Fred G. Stickel Award for excellence in local government and the highest commitment to ethics.  He is also among first-ever recipients of the International Municipal Lawyers Association Amicus Service Award which recognizes lawyers who have done exemplary work to protect and advance local government interests.



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