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).