EDGEWATER — The owners of the former Hess Corp. terminal, who are proposing to build a large residential and retail complex on the River Road properties, are threatening to sue the Borough Council over its decision this week to begin acquiring the land through eminent domain.

Monday’s “vote is the latest of a long line of actions taken by the borough that is certain to lead to more litigation at an even greater cost to Edgewater taxpayers,” Irina Elgart, an attorney representing the developer, wrote in an emailed statement. “Edgewater taxpayers cannot afford more litigation and certainly cannot afford to pay the true market value for this property.”

The Borough Council on Monday took the first steps toward appropriating $25 million to purchase the 18.7-acre tract at 615 River Road. The council plans to use the space for the borough’s Department of Public Works, parking space and parkland.

In her statement, Elgart accused Edgewater officials of retaliating against 615 River Road Partners LLC — a development partnership comprised of The Maxal Group, EnviroFinance Group and O’Gara 615 Holdings — because the company filed an earlier lawsuit, which the partnership lost, against the borough’s Zoning Board of Adjustment that was related to a now-defunct development proposal for the same land.

Joseph Mariniello Jr., the borough’s attorney, accused 615 River Road Partners of posturing on Wednesday and he said the borough is prepared to take the matter to court.

 “Their statement is not anything different than what I would expect from a self-interested developer who wants to make as much money as they can from a project,” he said. “They are a very litigious group of people and I expect there to be more litigation. What they think the borough can afford or can’t afford is of no particular consequence to us.”

Hess sold its Edgewater terminal, the largest undeveloped waterfront property north of Hoboken, to The Maxal Group, a real estate and private equity firm, and EnviroFinance Group, a land reuse and redevelopment company, in 2014 for $26 million.

The owners have since completed a multi-million dollar environmental cleanup of the property, Elgart said, but she declined to give the cost of the remediation. Elgart said the site is now worth multiples of Edgewater’s offer. She also declined to give an estimated value for the land.

“The owner intends to fight the borough’s right to take its property and believes that the record will show that the borough is proceeding in bad faith,” Elgart wrote.

The developers are set to appear before the borough’s zoning board before the end of the month to present two redevelopment applications for the east and west sides of the property, which spans both sides of River Road and two zoning districts.

A proposal for the 13.9-acre waterfront tract asks for permission to build 1,253 residential units, 44,650 square feet of retail space and 1,649 parking spaces spread among three high-rises ranging in height from 23 to 25 stories.

The 4.8-acre tract on the west side of River Road would include two towers with 619 residential units, 18,000 square feet of retail and 1,100 parking spaces.

Together, the projects are projected to house 3,719 people, add 149 students to Edgewater’s kindergarten through sixth grade school district, generate $13 million in tax revenue for the borough and produce hundreds of new trips by cars to and from the complex during peak hours, according to studies commissioned by 615 River Road Partners.

 The development would also provide 375 affordable housing units – a figure the owners have touted as a boon to a borough struggling to fulfill its affordable housing obligations.

Edgewater is currently working with a court-appointed master to determine how much housing it must promote for low- and moderate-income residents.

Mariniello, the borough attorney, said Edgewater officials are taking their obligations seriously but they are mindful of where such housing might be built.

“We know that we have needs that are going to have to be met down the road but we don’t think this is the right location to put all these units,” he said.

The residential and retail complex being proposed by 615 River Road Partners would be a disaster for Edgewater, Mariniello said.

“It’s an absolutely absurd development of the property,” he said. “It’s a project that would debilitate the town from a traffic standpoint, from a school standpoint and it’s right in the middle of town.”

 

Article By: , Staff Writer, NorthJersey.com

Article Link: http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/edgewater/2017/07/20/hess-land-owners-threaten-sue-over-eminent-domain-plan/488671001/

Photo Credit : AMY NEWMAN/northjersey.com file photo

Tuscaloosa City Hall is moving to seize nine properties to complete a $7.54 million improvements project along 10th Avenue.

The project has been in the works since at least 2014 but was been held up with property acquisition efforts and design changes to counter cost overruns, city officials said.

A total of 29 properties were needed to complete the work and the city has worked out agreements with 20 of the owners.

The remaining nine will be acquired through the City Council’s use of its eminent domain powers, which allow for governments to take privately-owned land — and compensate the owners for such — for public uses.

Tuscaloosa Councilman Kip Tyner on Tuesday asked why the Office of the City Attorney was recommending the eminent domain process at this time.

Senior Associate City Attorney Tom Bobitt said negotiations with the owners had broken down with the counter-offers becoming further and further apart.

“We’ve gone as far as we can go with voluntary acquisitions on 10th Avenue,” Bobitt said. “There’s just a point where you know.”

The nine properties being seized are all partial takes, said City Engineer Wendy Shelby, meaning strips of each lot are needed to complete the work.

Of the 20 properties that have been acquired, nine were vacant lots and completely obtained by the city, Shelby said

Construction could start by the end of the year.

“It all depends on those last nine properties,” Shelby said.

The project will extend along 10th Avenue between Hargrove Road and 29th Street and include the stretch along 29th Street between 10th Avenue and Harmon Park.

Included in the upgrades are street resurfacing; roadway and pedestrian lighting, improvements to the storm water drainage, sewer and water infrastructure; landscaping; and the extension of the 10-foot City Walk along the east side of 10th Avenue and north side of 29th Street.

Additional resurfacing is planned between 29th to 31st streets on 10th Avenue.

Originally budgeted at more than $14 million, the project initially included roadway widening, median construction and the placement of utilities underground.

However, budget constraints forced these aspects to be removed, Shelby said.

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Article Link: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20170718/city-will-use-eminent-domain-to-acquire-private-property

READING — Testimony continued Thursday morning in a federal courtroom where a property owner impacted by the proposed route of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline described the hardships the project will cause.

“Myself and my entire family are deathly afraid of the pipeline,” said Gary Erb, of Conestoga. “We don’t want to be anywhere near it.”

The Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. is seeking an injunction to take land via eminent domain. Transco wants to build just over 200 miles of pipeline, including 37 miles through Lancaster County to carry natural gas from shale fields in northern Pennsylvania to markets in the south.

According to testimony Monday, most of the gas is destined for foreign markets.

Several landowners — including the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a Catholic order with land near Columbia — are trying to halt the project by blocking seizure of their land.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl is hearing the case, which will continue at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Landowner testimony

Erb, who owns 72 acres at 415 Hilltop Drive with his wife, Michelle, testified Thursday morning that pipeline construction will interfere with tenant farming on three parcels of his land. The pipeline also will cut through a forested area he uses for hunting, he said.

It also disrupts plans for Erb’s three sons to build homes on the tract, he said during questioning by attorney Michael Onufrak.

Elizabeth Witmer, lead counsel for Transco, objected to his testimony, noting that no plans for construction have been filed. The judge overruled her, saying he “has to weigh irreparable harm” in his deliberations.

However, during cross-examination, Erb said construction of an additional house could still be feasible, but his family doesn’t want to live in close proximity to the line.

Erb also described his efforts to get Transco to consider an alternate route, which would still be on his land but would run immediately parallel to an existing PPL easement. Erb said the builders did not consider the option.

Stephen Hoffman — who lives with his wife and a daughter on 110 acres of forest and farmland at 3049 Safe Harbor Road, Millersville — testified that a Transco land representative tried to get him to sign documents that would give the company access to his land for surveying purposes.

Hoffman declined to sign, he said; however, he said, landowners who did sign lost much of their ability to block Transco from taking an easement from their property.

During the planning process, he added, the pipeline’s route shifted from a remote area of his land to a segment very close to his home.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the $2.5 billion construction project in February. The order, according to testimony Monday, stipulates the company’s right to seize a 50-foot-wide right-of-way through eminent domain for construction, operation and maintenance of the line.

Williams hopes to begin construction locally in mid- to late August, with the pipeline in service by next summer.

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 Article Link: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/landowners-on-atlantic-sunrise-pipeline-route-testify-against-project-myself/article_554cfe80-6d6a-11e7-ae7d-2b45ee785f21.html