Karl Massaro Jr., the owner, said he had no "second thoughts that we couldn't put cars there," since the property holds a factory and was once used to store as many as 200 tractor-trailers.
Massaro's comments came at a zoning board hearing Monday evening to review the issues.
Michael O'Grodnick, one of Vanco's lawyers, promised that the vehicles would be sold or removed within 90 days and that the grounds and soil would be restored.
"This is due to Hurricane Sandy. Over 70,000 cars were damaged. . . . This is just a temporary, emergency situation," he said.
But the board unanimously voted against giving Vanco permission to keep the vehicles on the land even temporarily, forcing the company to work with township zoning officer Robin Bucchi to resolve violation citations.
Bucchi said Vanco should have checked with her before leasing the property for an unapproved use.
"No one came to us and said, 'Hey, we want to use this site for flood relief,' " she said. Had the landowner and lessee of the property done that, she said, township officials might have worked with them to help with the emergency.
The lessee is Copart, a Texas company that buys and sells salvaged vehicles and holds online auctions. Copart is also leasing space in Hillsborough and Old Bridge to receive an overflow of flood-damaged vehicles.
On Nov. 20, Bucchi cited Vanco for violations. When she saw Copart bringing in more car carriers full of vehicles two weeks ago, she issued a "cease and desist" order.
"They have ignored us," she said. She is giving Vanco 30 days to remove all the vehicles.
The zoning officer in Hillsborough also issued violation notices to Copart and another Massaro company, Hercules Enterprise, for failing to obtain approvals to store vehicles in the Somerset County community.
In Mansfield, many of the vehicles have already been removed and about 2,400 remain, according to O'Grodnick.
Mayor Arthur Puglia said the sea of vehicles "makes the town look like a junkyard." He said he was also worried about potential gasoline and antifreeze leaks, especially since some residents use wells.
State Department of Environmental Protection inspectors, however, had found no spills or environmental issues at the site as of Monday, spokesman Larry Ragonese said.
"There have been no problems with pollution, hazardous waste, or water runoff," he said.
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs also is monitoring the sale of flood-damaged cars to protect buyers. Sellers who do not disclose the damage face a fine of $10,000.
Contact Jan Hefler
at 856-779-3224, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @JanHefler. Read her blog, "Burlco Buzz," at www.philly.com/BurlcoBuzz.