Question: I just completed a major renovation on my building costing several hundred thousand dollars and now you are going to condemn my building?
Answer: The Township has no plans to condemn your private property on Park Avenue. The Township has initiated the first phase of a multi-phase process to redevelop the downtown. This first phase includes portions of Park Avenue. As directed by the Township Council over the next several months, the Township Planning Board will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether all or portions of the Study Area being investigated meet one or more of the criteria under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law to be classified as an “area in need of redevelopment” by the Township Council.
Due to concerns about potential oversight of the courts as part of the affordable housing agreement that the Township will shortly enter into, the Township directed that eminent domain (condemnation) be included in the Planning Board’s redevelopment investigation. The Township has no plans to use eminent domain unless a situation develops where the Township will lose control of its development plans to the courts.
When the Planning Board completes its investigation (after public hearings), it will make a formal recommendation to the Township Council as to whether all or any portion of the Study Area meets the criteria for declaring the Study Area an “area in need of redevelopment”. At that point, the Township Council must adopt a Resolution declaring the Study Area (or portions of same) to be an “area in need of redevelopment”. The next step in the process is to prepare and ultimately adopt a Redevelopment Plan by ordinance after public hearing. If the Township Council accepts the Planning Board’s recommendation, the zoning and other ordinances for the Study Area will most likely change. Based on those changes, property owners, business owners, investors, and builders will make decisions as to whether they want to take advantage of new opportunities available under the Redevelopment Plan adopted by ordinance.
There are many steps in the redevelopment process and many opportunities for public participation. Eminent Domain is only a last resort if and only if the Township finds it essential to include the subject property in order to make the Plan functional.