The appointment was made “in order to coordinate the redevelopment of the Redevelopment Area in the most timely and efficient manner,” the authorizing resolution read. M&M’s designation is considered conditional pending the adoption of the redevelopment plan, the negotiation of an agreement and execution of a funding agreement between the firm and borough. According to the resolution, only the mayor is authorized to execute the funding agreement in “substantially the same form,” but with consultation from borough professionals.
The area is a scaled-back map of what planning board members analyzed for the designation. A study of the neighborhood was performed by Neglia Engineering, commissioned by Rutherford at a cost of $8,760. Following testimony against the inclusion of row homes on Union Avenue, B&C Auto Service, Union Dry Cleaners, a parking lot and a two-story home by tenants and owners, a revised map excluded the properties and subsequently received the board’s recommendation. The amended map did include businesses, whose tenants and property owners have expressed concern that eminent domain will be exercised.
A copy of the funding agreement was not immediately provided by the borough through an Open Public Records Act request since the agreement has not been signed yet.
M&M’s designation is limited to a period of 180 days, the resolution read, unless extended by Rutherford. Therefore, M&M will be the potential redeveloper for the site, said Mayor Joe DeSalvo. M&M is presently under contract for the purchase of the vacant DPW site at 38 Agnew Place, which is no longer owned by the borough and is fenced in as part of a NJDEP cleanup.
While DeSalvo said the redeveloper will attempt to acquire the properties within the area, he was it was “too early” to say whether or not eminent domain would be used.
No redevelopment plan will be finalized until both sides negotiate and come to agreeable terms, DeSalvo said.
Last month, the mayor and council retained the legal firm McManimon, Scotland & Baumann and consultant Benecke Economics to examine upcoming redevelopment within the borough. Among their duties, the consultant and attorney will negotiate Payments-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOTs) for a mixed-use building on Park Avenue containing about 6,000-square feet of retail and 52 rental units. The professionals will also assist the borough with the pending decisions concerning a mixed-use project off Route 17 near Highland Cross, which the borough shares zoning jurisdiction with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
A few years ago, the town rejected developer Capodagli Property Company, LLC/Meridia’s plan to build a transit village consisting of 58 units on a portion of the Agnew Place site.