The controversy over the siting of a mosque in Basking Ridge will probably continue despite the costs–and limitations–of litigation. It’s sad, because the conflict is “ripe” for a negotiated settlement. The parties have an opportunity to step away from a lawsuit’s adversarial positioning and attempt to work out a resolution that can meet their interests. The process of devising a solution they can live with, moreover, provides an opportunity to mend fences, to reach for a more profound outcome than simply settling the lawsuit. The conflict, after all, is one within a community, among neighbors who will continue to live side by side. A win/loss outcome, which is what litigation provides, will not help to heal this community.
We are in a time, unfortunately, where divisiveness rather than cooperation is the prevailing ethos. But, perhaps Basking Ridge can rise to the need of the moment–a solution arrived at in good faith negotiations.
Linda Stamato and Sandy Jaffe, co-directors of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University