Three resolutions related to potential redevelopment of ten (10) properties commonly known as the Ryan property were passed unanimously by council at the May 17th municipal meeting.
Resolution 167-18 approved a $12,380 study to determine if the ten lots qualify as An Area In Need Of Redevelopment. The formal investigation will be conducted by the borough’s engineering firm, Neglia Engineering. The engineering firm will review New Jersey’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (also known as the “Redevelopment Law”), particularly NJSA 40A:12A-5 which lays out the determination of need for redevelopment. According to previous statements by representatives from Neglia, there are eight (8) criteria that determine is an area falls under a need for redevelopment. A municipality only needs to demonstrate that one of the eight is an existing condition at the studay area.
Resolution 165-18 directed the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) to undertake a preliminary investigation which will have them review the report by the engineering firm and have a public discussion of the findings to put on the record.
At the May 17th Mayor & Council meeting, Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio addressed one aspect of the study. Originally in April, a letter from the Ryan family’s attorney requested that nine (9) properties be considered as An Area In Need Of Redevelopment (link). The official area in Resolution 165-18 now included a lot not owned by the Ryan family – block 503, lot 2 – which is a house along West Lincoln Avenue among the other lots owned by the Ryans.
Councilman DeIorio stated, “Upon my review yesterday there’s one property that’s not a Ryan [family] owned property. I believe it’s the LoBello’s. I had originally thought that all the properties were acquired but when I asked Mr. Belluscio yesterday he said that there’s one property – that property – that is under negotiations right now. I bring this up just as a matter of putting it out there. The study in [and] of itself doesn’t make the area officially an area in need of redevelopment but what it could do, if the one residential property is within that study area, it’s my belief that it puts more leverage on the majority owner to get the property because once this is designated as a studied area if the Lebellos want to sell it to anyone else, a realtor is going to have to disclose that . . . it’s an area being studied in an area [in] need of redevelopment, so it gives them less leverage to try to sell it elsewhere. That’s my primary concern.”
The councilman commented that something similar occurred when the project at Meridia had its original request to have the area where the old Domani’s/Yesterday’s restaurant used to be studied as an area in need of redevelopment (link).
“Yes,” Mayor Carl Hokanson replied, “Skinner & Cook up to Surgent’s Gym was the original area for redevelopment. When Surgent’s Gym and Skinner & Cook found out they were in it, they wished to be removed, which they [were] but even if they were in the area of redevelopment that doesn’t mean that they were going to take the property away or move it.”
The mayor noted that currently, Skinner & Cook is up for sale but it is not part of the development project known as Meridia At Roselle Park.
The mayor added, “Just because it’s an area of redevelopment that doesn’t mean that the property is going to be taken away or eminent domain.”
The councilman-at-large continued, “The point is while I do believe the area should be studied, does it put the one property in an unfair disadvantage because their ability to sell elsewhere will be limited or it could very well, once it’s studied it’s not part of the redevelopment zone and it’s sort of cookie-cuttered out which would make it an odd property to try to redevelopment? I mean let’s be realistic, it’d be a more difficult property to have developed. I would have just liked to have had some response saying yes there’s an active contract or no there isnt’ or something but I couldn’t get that answer. I was advised to call the Ryan’s attorney directly but I thought that may have not the best course as an elected [official] calling the attorney. I would have deferred it to our attorney.”
Borough Attorney Richard Huxford agreed, stating that he would reach out to the Ryan legal repesentative on behalf of council and notifed the overning body of the status of the property in quesiton.
“So is it the sentiment of the governing body to move ahead and then get the information or wait, get the information, and then act upon it?,” asked Councilman DeIorio, “I’ll acquiesce to the majority, again, I just wanted to put that out there.”
“Let’s go with it is my vote,” said Second Ward Councilman Joseph Petrosky.
With that, council unaimously voted to authorize the preliminary investigation.
Later on that same meeting last Thursday night, council passed Resolution 174-18 which awarded a professional services contract to Savo, Schalk. Gillespie, O’Grodnick & Fisher, P.A. for Redevelopment Legal Counsel Services for $9,300 to represent the borough’s interests in the Ryan property redevelopment matter. This firm is Roselle Park’s new redevelopment counsel.
Initially, the total amount of $21,680 for redevelopment services will be paid by the municipality but once – or if – a developer is designated, that cost will be reimbursed to the municipality by the developer.