(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Shavonda Sumter, Benjie Wimberly, Dan Benson and Elizabeth Muoio to help get properties that have been ignored by developers redeveloped and revitalized was approved Thursday by the Assembly.
The bill (A-2065) would direct the executive director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to, in consultation with the Commissioner of Community Affairs, establish and administer a “pilot program” to assist qualified rehabilitation entities with the process of obtaining permits and approvals necessary to redevelop certain properties.
“Properties that have been dormant for years do nothing for neighborhoods, except attract nuisances and deny municipalities much needed tax revenue,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This bill would ease some of the bureaucracy involved in getting permits and approvals for redevelopment projects in order to get these properties developed and back on the tax rolls.”
“Industrial cities like Paterson have many diamonds in the rough just waiting to be polished,” said Sumter (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Symbols of a bygone era, these properties have the potential to be great again, with a little help. This bill would help us market these properties to potential developers, which would help bring tax revenue and further propel the redevelopment of our city.”
“This is an opportunity to clean up blighted areas in our communities and turn eyesores into beacons of revitalization,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “For one reason or another, these properties have been continuously overlooked by developers. Making them more appealing for redevelopment would not only help the municipalities where they are located, but the state.”
“This legislation will help to tackle some of the most neglected areas in the state and speed access for redevelopment and revitalization,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Addressing the problems which make these abandoned properties unmarketable is a step toward neighborhood preservation and an end to eroding property values.”
“Many of these properties have sat idle for decades, contributing nothing but problems to neighborhoods and municipalities,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “By removing the obstacles that have kept these properties stagnant, we can help bring these properties back to life, strengthen neighborhoods and provide municipalities with tax revenue.”
Under the bill, the EDA would identify and include 12 New Jersey properties that have problems which interfere with their redevelopment, such as environmental hazards, infrastructural hazards, title disputes, and governmental or legal claims which may interfere with, limit, or prolong the process of redevelopment and revitalization. Qualified rehabilitation entities would apply to participate in the pilot program. The EDA would be authorized to charge fees to program applicants to help fund the pilot program, and would also enable EDA to use other available moneys for that purpose.
Within three years of the pilot program’s implementation, the EDA would submit a report to the governor and the Legislature with the executive director’s opinion as to whether the program should be continued and, if so, recommendations for further improvement, modifications, and implementation.
This bill would take effect immediately and would expire five years thereafter.
The bill was approved 70-6-0 by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.