Hopewell Township is considering designating three specific areas of the municipality as “in need of redevelopment.” At the May Planning Board meeting, the Board was charged, by the Township Committee, to undertake an investigation of certain properties in the Township to determine whether those properties constitute “a redevelopment area pursuant to the New Jersey local redevelopment and housing law,” according to the resolution language.
For information on the Zaitz tract, see Hopewell Township Considering Community Center Near Pennington Circle.
Specifically, three resolutions were adopted to consider:
- CF Hopewell CC&L LLC, Hopewell Township and Capital Health System, Inc. at Block 91, Lots 3.11, 3.14, 3.161, 3.181, 3.191, 3.22, 3.95, 3.961 and Block 93, Lots 3.01, 5.01, 6.01 (Scotch Road):
- Klockner at Block 78.09, Lot 21 (Federal City/Bull Run); and
- Zaitz at Block 85, Lots 3, 4, 5.01, 7, 24 (Property behind Shop Rite on Pennington Circle)
Planning Board Vice Chair Paul Kiss explained that the Board, with the expertise of the Township Planner, Frank Banisch, is being asked to determine whether certain properties constitute a redevelopment area.
“Tonight is an introduction to the Planning Board of the parcels and a brief discussion of one of them… There will be no action being taken but there will be a public hearing in one month, after Frank completes his report,” explained Kiss. “We are being directed by the Committee to consider the report when we receive it and then will either recommend or not recommend the report.”
Want to know more about what is considered an “area of redevelopment?” Check out MercerMe’s coverage of the issue. The article offers an overview of the process and its use as a planning tool.
Banisch said, “There are three resolutions and each resolution asks us to look at a different area of the community and we need to answer whether it qualifies as an area in need of redevelopment.”
The redevelopment process is one that seeks “to rebuild or restore an area in a measurable state of decline, disinvestment, or abandonment. Redevelopment may be publicly or privately initiated, but it is commonly recognized as the process governed by the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law and undertaken in accordance with a redevelopment plan adopted by the municipality. If used correctly, it can transform an underutilized or distressed area into an economically viable and productive part of the community,” according to the Redevelopment Handbook, A Guide to Rebuilding New Jersey’s Communities.
The Board intends to address the Scotch Road properties separately from the Klockner and Zaitz tracts and received an overview of the properties involved which span the “CF Hopewell and interchange area properties,” explained Banisch, “with the the properties in question being… the Capital Health property, the road that extends in Capital Way, a property with frontage on Scotch Road between southern and central driveway, the hut, recreational fields, large wetland area,” and an additional adjacent property in the Scotch Road area.
Under the current Scotch Road / Merrill Lynch “GDP” (General Development Plan), the property, primarily owned by CF Hopewell, both on the east and west side cumulatively is permitted construction of additional square footage. “It could be 3.5 million there but not more than 4 in total,” explained Township Administrator, Paul Pogorzelski.
The properties represent 18% of the tax base, confirmed Pogorzelski.
“There is a growing lack of property utilization resulting in a not full productive use of the land,” said Banisch. “This was built to be a single user campus [Merrill Lynch] and the sale to several owners poses unique issues because of the way the campus is constructed.”
“When we look at the real estate market in a larger picture,” continued Banisch, “the shift from single to multiple owners results in the need in changes on the property that was not anticipated by the single users.”
The memo prepared for the Planning Board outlined the benefits of designating an area in need of redevelopment, including the additional affordable housing credits and increased control over what is developed on the properties. Board member Larry Clarke requested that Banisch also provide the Board with possible cons to the designation.
“I’m going to need a lot more information,” said Board Member Marylou Ferrara. “I realize this is just the first stab but right now I don’t think the statutory criteria either (e) or (h) [of the statute] really passes the ‘straight face test’ in order for me to make that finding.”
The Board will be reviewing a complete report, prepared by Banisch, regarding the Scotch Road area properties at the June 22 Planning Board meeting.