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Economic Development on Committee's Plate Monday

What does the township have in store for the Azalea Farms property? Who's going to be in charge of community and economic development? Find out here (or come to the meeting).

Economic development looks to dominate the discussion when township committee meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the municipal building. Here’s a quick preview of what’s on the agenda:

Azalea Farms — The committee will discuss the acquisition of the long-vacant property that sits along Route 130 between Highland Avenue and Riverton Road (near Friendly’s, across from Cinnamon Sticks Learning Center), for the purpose of potential future development.

Mayor Ben Young said the township isn’t buying the property yet, but the ordinance the committee plans to pass Monday will set in motion a due diligence period during which the township can figure out whether it wants the property and, if so, what it could be used for. 

Deputy Mayor Anthony Minniti said Azalea Farms—so named because the former occupant ran a roadside stand where he sold azaleas—has been vacant for about 15 years. The property was purchased about five years ago for a little more than $1 million, but the owner went into foreclosure and the land was on its way to a sheriff’s sale when the township stepped in.

Minniti said the listed price for the property is around $600,000, which is “very, very low for property on Route 130.”

He explained the township’s interest: “The property has never been properly utilized. We need to maximize the development of Route 130 to help relieve the tax burden.”

Even if committee passes the ordinance, it still has the option to not purchase the property after the township does its due diligence, Minniti said.

Department of Community and Economic Development — Township committee plans to create a new position—director of community and economic development—to act as a “central conduit” for many of the township’s land-use and business-related issues, Minniti said. 

According to the deputy mayor, the township was getting complaints from residents and businesses “that the level of service they were receiving was subpar, and the administrator and the township had no idea.”

The township needs someone “at the top of the chain” to address many of these issues, he said.

Rather than hire someone new, administrator Frank Locantore will assume the mantle of director of community and economic development, with the new role expected to comprise 10 to 15 percent of his job, according to Young.

“It’s perfect position for him to have,” said the mayor. “This is the result of some extensive, extensive meetings.”

To check out the full agenda, click on the attached PDF above.

Township committee will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the municipal building (1621 Riverton Road). 

Michelle February 26, 2013 at 04:31 PM
"Justlovenlife"/coward, no real name, go figure.. Just like I said. I am Michelle, Don's wife and I don't hide behind fake names like you.
John February 27, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Hey people this has nothing to do with the article ok lets stick to the facts and stop the name calling....we have issues flooding, new schools, vacant houses and HIGH TAXES and we get people comparing our town to places with no facts to back them up.....now we are going to get reassessed to make up for lost money, give us all a break...
John March 05, 2013 at 04:35 PM
So what my name is John and I am not hidding behind anything....I am tired of the run arounds that the school board does, the assessor does and all the land buying that goes on with our tax money....have a great day ....
Ruth Mays April 16, 2013 at 06:26 AM
You are so right about the trees. It took 2 years to get the tree in front of my house removed, 2 years during which it was completely dead. Take a look around town and you will see that most of the Norway Maples planted on the sidewalk strips are either dead or dying. The ones that are still alive have some yellowish-green stuff growing on the bark. As soon as a tree has that, you might as well cut it down because it is on the way to dying.
Ruth Mays April 16, 2013 at 06:35 AM
Re the long vacant property on 130- could it be vacant because of the motel? Would you want to build next to the motel? I thought not. If this is such a desirable property, why has it not sold yet? Would it suddenly become desirable if the township owned it? Do they have a buyer in mind who would like to buy it at a bargain price just to take it off our hands, and if it does get sold, will there be yet another PILOT? Since even properties with a PILOT do pay some money, why is it that none of that money goes to the school district? I understand that other towns with PILOT agreements do give money to their school districts. Maybe our school taxes would not be so high....

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