Redevelopment and Phone Company Litigation Discussed by Hopewell Borough Council

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    Hopewell Borough Council July 2018

    The Hopewell Borough Council continued its ongoing discussion regarding the redevelopment plan for Model Avenue, unanimously voting to introduce it as an ordinance at its July 10 meeting.

    The 1.146 acre lot will have 13 townhouses, two of which will be affordable housing units. The site is also speculated to be environmentally beneficial — it is estimated by the Watershed Institute (formerly the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association) to have one million gallons of water treated from runoff.

    “I think the Planning Board and the applicant have done a great job in presenting the plan that is clear, consistent, and nicely fits into the neighborhood,” said Mayor Paul Anzano. “It helps better utilize the neighborhood and better utilizes the property.”

    Since the ordinance has been introduced, the Council will schedule a public hearing for August for members of the community to come and share their thoughts on the redevelopment plan. The Council will also schedule public information sessions educating interested members of the public about the redevelopment process in general .

    The Council also addressed a litigation in which Hopewell Borough is involved with the phone company. The law says that if the company does not provide 50 plus 1 percent of the landline service, then the company does not have to pay a franchise tax. Hopewell Borough is fighting against this, and hopes to pave the way for other municipalities in the state.  Hopewell Borough is one of the first communities to take this issue to trial, which will likely be in the fall. Many other municipalities, like New Brunswick and Perth Amboy, are waiting for the decision in order to move forward with their own litigations.

    “If we’re successful, they’ll all say ‘thank you’ because they benefit. But if we lose, they’re going to say ‘you botched the case,’” said Anzano.

    The Council also adopted a number of ordinances, one of which was the pay-to-play ordinance in redevelopment zones. The Council approved that any political contribution to a Hopewell Borough campaign over $300 must be disclosed, and will result in restriction of a contract.

    “The thought is, just from a public perception standpoint, to just make sure that there’s just no question about that sort of hanky-panky,” said Councilman David Mackie. “When was the last time anybody spent money on a campaign?”

    The Council’s next meeting is scheduled for August 2.

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