Did You Know… (#5)
…that the Borough recently signed a Redevelopment Agreement for the area of our community located on the south-bound side of Rt. 73? (But not including the Nature Cove of course!)
Actually, the Borough signed what’s referred to as a Conditional Redeveloper Designation and Interim Cost Agreement (The “Interim Agreement”) that provides for a 120-day period in which the Borough negotiates exclusively with the named developer in hopes of signing a final Redevelopment Agreement. The final Redevelopment Agreement is the contract between the Borough and developer that specifies exactly what the developer can and cannot do and the developer’s responsibilities like: how much industrial, commercial, residential, recreational and/or protected areas should be constructed, provided for, or set aside; the amount of taxes or PILOT* to be paid by the developer; any community amenities the developer is required to provide the municipality in exchange for the rights to redevelop the area; and other terms and conditions of the project.
The Interim Agreement also requires the developer – Stock Development Group, Inc., of Doylestown, PA – to pay for all of the Borough’s reasonable expenses that we incur during the 120-day negotiation period. And guess what? We already received that check in the amount of $25,000 from Mr. Glenn Stock on Friday, August 23rd! Woo hoo!
What is a Redevelopment Area anyway?
New Jersey’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 et seq. (LRHL or “the Act”) affords New Jersey municipalities immense authority to revive deteriorating areas within their locality. The Act empowers municipal governing bodies, in conjunction with their planning boards, (in our case that’s our Land Use Board, which meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month) to investigate and determine whether an area is “in need of redevelopment,” and to adopt a redevelopment plan to govern land use in the area. Once adopted, a municipality enjoys broad powers to effectuate the goals of the redevelopment plan, including the power to acquire property through condemnation if negotiations to purchase the property directly are not successful. Oftentimes the goals of a redevelopment plan are pursued through cooperative relationships – partnerships – between the municipality and a private redeveloper of its choosing, with whom it can negotiate a contract for a project and collect revenue.
Actually, there are several Redevelopment Areas in Palmyra, including the former PNC Bank at Highland and Morgan Aves. And the Borough is considering asking the Land Use Board to consider investigating whether the Knights of Columbus property on Broad St qualifies as an area in need of redevelopment too!
The Borough has been attempting to redevelop the south-bound side of Rt. 73 since the early 2000’s however, but due to heavy environmental contamination, which brought about litigation against the property owner by both the Borough and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, it’s been a very complicated and expensive project to date.
The Borough even obtained a grant from the NJ DEP for over $7M for environmental investigation and limited remediation!
As you can imagine the Borough maintains and provides quite a bit of information on the project, which is publicly available to anyone. An overview can be found on our website – see Redevelopment in the green menu area – plus there are tens of thousands of additional technical documents and pages of data (available to potential developers and the public as noted) that is stored on a FTP site (a secure online database) maintained by the Borough’s environmental consultant ERM. ERM – Environmental Resources Management – is a world-wide provider of environmental services and the Borough’s long-time environmental engineer.
FUN FACTS about our Redevelopment Area:
- One third of our entire community’s land area is situated on the south-bound side of Rt. 73, most of it undeveloped including the 184-acre “area in need of redevelopment” and the 250-acre Palmyra Cove Nature Park.
- The Borough already cleaned up over 300 unexploded ordinance — yes, bombs — left on the site by the US Army after testing high-explosive anti-tank rounds in the early 1950s. The technical term for these bombs is MEC or “Munitions and Explosives of Concern”. Heck yeah we’re concerned!
- Despite popular myth that the Army fired artillery shells over the river back in the 50s that just didn’t happen. The Army set up dirt embankments in the area of the old drive-in movie theatre/flea market and fired rounds directly into them. The dirt embankments and unexploded rounds were then simply bulldozed level and covered over with asphalt!
- The old drive-in movie theatre covers 64 acres of the Redevelopment Area and is by far the most well-known and popular of the properties – especially with high school sweethearts er, families back in the 60s and 70s!
- The largest parcel in the Redevelopment Area at 104-acres is owned by Fillit Inc. – a company that excavated and recycled fill materials. There is also a 60-acre former landfill on that site that was once used for dumping trash from Philadelphia! The “dump” was capped in the early 70s.
To learn more read the August 23rd article in the Burlington County Times (select this link for a PDF version), or come to a Redevelopment Agency Meeting (the Redevelopment Agency is the same as the Governing Body!), which are held at 6:30 PM most first Mondays of the month.