Is Highlands Shabby? The Mayor & Council Seems To Thinks So




The whole purpose of the recent study discussed at a special Council Meeting last week was to see whether that CBD is shabby and derelict enough to meet criteria described in the state Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.


If it is, that would enable that specific area of the borough to qualify as “an area in need of redevelopment.” I haven’t researched all the benefits the state offers to people who have not kept up their own property and can now get help from the state for their lack of pride of ownership. But it certainly appears that long term tax abatement for those owners in future years is one of the pluses.

At the very excellent public forum Mayor Carolyn Broullon called so residents could learn more about the proposed Redevelopment Business area, pretty much all of Bay Avenue, I raised the question whether a stronger code enforcement program could resolve many of the issues involved.


That is not a criticism of the code enforcement officer; but after taking a rapid look-see at the hundreds of pages I received less than 24 hours before the meeting from a very cooperative mayor and borough clerk it looked to me like simply having a strict clean-up campaign would make the area more attractive simpler and easier.


It looked like something big could be accomplished without spending money on more studies, new ordinances and changing the face of Bay avenue to something which could be unrecognizable to the generations who have lived through many changes.

A closer look at the very comprehensive planner’s report also piqued my interest in a number of other areas as well.

The borough, with 12 properties, owns the largest number of lots in the area, some of which meet, some don’t meet the criteria to be shabby. But since not all of the borough properties are spiffy nice and do qualify, are you ready to trust the borough to improve its own property if it hasn’t done it all these years?


The Redevelopment area under consideration with Council setting a target date of the October or November meeting to introduce redevelopment ordinances with final passage before the end of the year, covers the CBD, the Central Business District.


That includes pretty much all of the Bay Avenue corridor, from Shrewsbury Avenue and South Street on the east to just past Ocean Avenue on the west. It does not include the complexes on Marina Drive and Marina Bay Court, but does include some other properties on Shore Drive and S. Second street, and pieces of some side streets that touch Bay avenue.


That’s a total of 154 tax lots in 35 different tax block numbers, an area of just under 20 acres. Of the 154 lots, 21 are vacant, the rest are a mixed use of commercial and residential buildings and parks.

I haven’t researched all the benefits the state offers to people who have not kept up their own property and can now get help from the state for their lack of pride of ownership. But it certainly appears that long term tax abatement for those owners in future years is one of the pluses.


Nor do I know whether the tax abatement these property owners would receive would be offset by the tax increase in which these great improvements, even with an abatement. Makes me wonder on these properties the owners haven’t improved so far, if they do, will their abatement mean the rest of the taxpayers in town would then have a higher tax rate to cover what they don’t have to pay.


Think of it. The state rewards people who don’t take care of their property, and it could well result in those who do take care having to pay higher taxes.

So who are the specific folks who will reap the benefits of a redevelopment district? Well, let’s see. There’s nothing wrong with it but it does make you wonder why it has to be difficult to know the specific people who own about 25 percent of the properties, according to borough records.


They’re owned by companies, several of whom appear to have bought the property as an investment they have not yet improved. Names like Tri-State Realty, Bay Avenue Developers, Bay Avenue Ventures, Arbors Investment, or McKay Holdings.


And some of the addresses associated with these companies make you want to take a second look and know more.


As an example, Tri State Realty, which owns around half a dozen properties, and Bay Avenue Ventures, which owns about four properties both have an office address at 494 Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury, though one is in suite 100 and the other in suite A on at least listing.


Then a company with a Keasby, NJ address owns three properties along with another one that Bay Avenue Property Management owns but with the same Keasby address.

Of the 154 tax lots, the planner said that 95 ‘qualify’ as bad enough to be included for these privileges.


NEXT: What’s the state criteria to prove your business district is rundown.


Attached is the photo's from the study ... You decide ... Highlands Shabby or not?



Appendix-A_photos_part1_B40.01_B54
.pdf
Download PDF • 7.57MB

Appendix-A_photos_part2_B58_B73
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Download PDF • 8.22MB

Appendix-A_photos_part3_B74_B114
.pdf
Download PDF • 4.82MB

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