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Gusciora, Sumter, Wimberly & Benson Bill to Help Get Dormant Properties Redeveloped & Back on Tax Rolls Clears Assembly Panel

Bill would help revitalize abandoned properties including historic Roebling factories property in Trenton & Vista site within Great Falls National Historic Park area in Paterson

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel recently approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Shavonda E. Sumter, Benjie Wimberly and Dan Benson to help get properties that have otherwise been ignored by developers redeveloped and revitalized.

“Many municipalities have properties that for one reason or another have been ignored by developers and have sat vacant and blighted for years, contributing nothing to the local economy,” 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.”

“This would be a tremendous help to municipalities like Paterson which are sitting on diamonds in the rough just waiting to be polished,” said Sumter (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Take the Vista site within the Great Falls National Park District, which has endured some setbacks. This bill would help us market this space to potential developers, which would further propel the redevelopment of this historic area.”

The bill (A-2346) directs the executive director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), in consultation with the Commissioner of Community Affairs, to establish and administer a statewide pilot program to assist qualified rehabilitation entities seeking to obtain the necessary permits and approvals needed to redevelop and revitalize abandoned properties.

“There are many properties, notably the Vista Site in Paterson, that have been vacant for far too long and for one reason or another,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This is an opportunity to clean up blighted areas in our communities and turn eyesores into beacons of revitalization. Paterson and other New Jersey communities deserve a chance to give abandoned properties a second life.”

“Too many properties have been left to deteriorate in New Jersey. State assistance is needed to help clean up this blight,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation will help to tackle some of the most neglected areas in the state and speed access for redevelopment and revitalization. Addressing the problems which make these abandoned properties unmarketable is a step toward neighborhood preservation and an end to eroding property values.”

Under the pilot program, the authority must identify and include 12 properties in the state which have been deemed poor or risky investments due to problems associated with the properties, including, but not limited to, environmental hazards, infrastructural hazards, title disputes, and governmental or legal claims, or other problems which may interfere with, limit, or prolong the process of redevelopment or revitalization. The properties must include, but not be limited to, those properties determined to be abandoned properties pursuant to current law, the area known as the Roebling factories property in the city of Trenton, and the Vista site, with surrounding factories, located in the Great Falls National Historical Park section of the city of Paterson.

Within 90 days of the effective date of the bill, the authority must establish an application process in order to accept applications from qualified rehabilitation entities interested in the program. Upon the 91st day following enactment, the authority must make the applications available, and within a reasonable time frame thereafter, start approving applications for participation in the program.

The authority would have to assist participating qualified rehabilitation entities with the process of obtaining permits and approvals necessary to start and continue redevelopment on the properties identified by the authority for inclusion in the program. The authority would be authorized to collect fees in connection with applications for, and participation in, the pilot program as it deems reasonable.

Finally, the bill directs the EDA executive director to submit a report to the governor and the Legislature within three years following the effective date of the bill, advising whether the pilot should be continued, and if so, recommendations for further improvement, modifications, and implementation.

The bill was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee approved the measure last June.