Now, he’s been told the store violates the township zoning ordinance and that he may have to close.
Handlovic is fighting the decision in court, and has gathered more than 300 signatures in protest of the decision.
The shop at 750 Route 57 is zoned commercial, and the township zoning ordinance bans certain types of uses there, like auction sales, theaters, bowling alleys and shopping centers.
Antique stores are not among the list of prohibited uses, but it's not specifically listed as a permitted use either, which means it's subject to approval by the township zoning officer or board of adjustment.
“It’s pretty sad that they would run a successful 19-year-old business out of town when they never had any complaints,” said Scott Wilhelm, Handlovic’s attorney.
Greenwich Township Mayor Dan Perez declined to comment because the matter is in the courts. He referred comment to zoning officer David Barretto, who did not respond to messages.
An appeal of the zoning decision will be considered during a non-jury trial at Greenwich Township Municipal Court May 7.
Handlovic did not respond to a message for comment.
Wilhelm said even if they are successful in court, Handlovic likely plans to close the township store and relocate to Knowlton Township.
“He does not want to leave Greenwich,” Wilhelm said. “We’ve just decided that even when this case (ends), the township will keep looking for things to violate
him on. So it’s best to get out of town.”
Although the township cannot shut the store down until the trial is held, the township’s Nov. 12 violation notice against Handlovic carries a penalty of $500 per day.
That means if his appeal is denied on May 7, Wilhelm said Handlovic could face a penalty of $90,000 or $500 for a total of 180 days.
Wilhelm has also filed a motion to dismiss the case altogether, which will be considered the same day.
Wilhelm said he does not know why the township decided to enforce the issue now.