History of the Emerson Redevelopment: Part VIII (January 2017 through June 2017)

This is the eighth in a series of historical background facts on the history of Redevelopment in Emerson.

Redevelopment in the State of New Jersey is governed by New Jersey Statutes. N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5 allows a municipality to designate one or more properties as an “area ...in need of redevelopment” if one (1) of (8) criteria are met. The three (3) criteria relied upon by the Borough in designating Block 419 are as follows:

a. The generality of buildings are substandard, unsafe, unsanitary, dilapidated, or
obsolescent, or possess any of such characteristics, or are so lacking in light, air, or space,
as to be conducive to unwholesome living or working conditions.

d. Areas with buildings or improvements which, by reason of dilapidation,
obsolescence, overcrowding, faulty arrangement or design, lack of ventilation, light and
sanitary facilities, excessive land coverage, deleterious land use or obsolete layout, or any
combination of these or other factors, are detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or
welfare of the community.

e. A growing lack or total lack of proper utilization of areas caused by the
condition of the title, diverse ownership of the real property therein or other conditions, 
resulting in a stagnant or not fully productive condition of land potentially useful and
valuable for contributing to and serving the public health, safety and welfare.

(See link to New Jersey Redevelopment Statute)
By a vote of 4-1, with Resolution 58-17 dated January 17, 2017, the Council adopted the Land Use Board’s recommendation that Block 419 remain “An Area in Need of Redevelopment”. (See link to Resolution 58-17 dated January 17, 2017 and Borough Planner’s Report dated December 8, 2016)

In February 2017, the Mayor and Council mailed a letter to all residents and business in the Borough entitled “Important Information Regarding Our Downtown Business District, Redevelopment and Affordable Housing Mandates”. (See link to letter entitled “Important Information Regarding Our Downtown Business District, Redevelopment and Affordable Housing Mandates”)

As work progressed on the Kinderkamack Road Improvement project, the Council addressed whether the properties originally in the Redevelopment Zone, as initially designated by the 2006 Council, should be reduced by removing properties from the designation. The Council authorized the Borough Planner to re-study the remaining areas (other than Block 419 which had already been studied). A Map was created and a Study performed to determine what parcels, if any, should be removed from the Redevelopment Zone.

The Map and Study identified twenty-eight (28) properties that should be removed as either being redeveloped or no longer meeting the criteria, and identified another forty-five (45) properties for further study. (See link to Map of Redevelopment Zone and Study of Redevelopment Zone)
With Resolution 92-17 dated February 21, 2017, the Council unanimously removed twenty-four (24) properties from the 2006 Redevelopment Zone. (See link to Resolution 92-17 dated February 21, 2017) The Council also directed the Borough Planner to review the remaining properties to determine if they continued to meet the criteria. (See link to Resolution 93-17 dated February 21, 2017)

With Resolution 117-17, unanimously passed on March 21, 2017, the Council removed an additional twenty (20) properties from the Redevelopment Zone. An additional eight (8) properties were removed from the Redevelopment Zone by the Council on June 13, 2017. Thus, the only properties which remain are the eleven (11) in Block 419, ten (10) in Block 422, two (2) in Block 420, two (2) in Block 610 and three (3) in Block 412 for a total of twenty-eight (28). (See link to Resolution 117-17 passed on March 21, 2017)

Removal of a property from the Redevelopment Zone means that the Borough will not be trying to develop these properties through Redevelopment, instead leaving the issue of improvement to each owner. The removed properties are no longer subject to eminent domain.

In March 2017, the owner of the property where the Cinar Restaurant is located sued the Borough claiming that the entire zone is not “an area in need of redevelopment". That same owner had previously asked to be included in the Redevelopment Zone when approached by a different redeveloper. (See History Part VI) The owner of the building where Cork & Keg/Ranch Cleaners rents then sued the Borough, making the same allegations with the same attorney. The Borough has filed an Answer to both Complaints.

JMF Properties has entered into contracts for the purchase of six (6) of the ten (10) properties it needs for the redevelopment to move forward. The owner of the Cinar properties also owns the two (2) vacant lots adjacent to the restaurant. The tenth lot is owned by the Borough, which the Borough has agreed to transfer to JMF pursuant to the Redevelopment Agreement.

JMF has attempted to conclude negotiations with these two (2) owners, but their attorney has demanded that JMF’s representative have no further contact with his clients.
The 2017 Council was comprised of two (2) Republicans and four (4) Democrats, with a Democratic mayor. Thus, bi-partisan efforts continued to improve a deteriorated downtown business district.

As usual, please feel free to reach out with any questions to mayor@emersonnj.org.

I will pick up with the developments occurring in the second half of 2017 in my next offering.

New Jersey Redevelopment Statute

Resolution 58-17 dated January 17, 2017

Borough Planner’s Report dated December 8, 2016

Letter entitled “Important Information Regarding Our Downtown Business District, Redevelopment and Affordable Housing Mandates”

Map of Redevelopment Zone and Study of Redevelopment Zone

Resolution 92-17 dated February 21, 2017

Resolution 93-17 dated February 21, 2017

Resolution 112-17 passed on March 21, 2017