Middletown declares Belford an area in need of redevelopment


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Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN — More than a month after officials presented findings suggesting the Port of Belford area be designated “as in need of redevelopment,” the Township Committee has passed a resolution concurring with the results presented to the Planning Board.

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“Passing the resolution now allows us to put out Request For Proposals,” Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said in an interview after the committee’s Feb. 1 meeting.

“We’ll get proposals and plans from various developers, and it’ll really give us a sense of what realistically can be done with this area, what we can pull off and what would be viable there physically and financially.”

On July 20,2015, the governing body authorized and requested the Planning Board to undertake a preliminary investigation of the properties, identified as Block 137, Lots 2.05, 2.07, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; Block 281, Lots 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20; Block 306, Lots 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 66, 108, 110, 130, 131, 132, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141,142, 143, 144, 169, 170, 171, 172; Block 319, Lot 1; Block 320, Lot1; Block 321, Lot 1; Block 322, Lot 1; Block 323, Lot 1; Block 324, Lot 1; and Block 325 Lot 1, to determine if they qualified as an “area in need of redevelopment.”

On Oct. 19, the governing body expanded the study area to include additional properties identified as Block 306, Lots 122, 123, 124, 125, 128 and 129, and Block 306.01, Lots 14, 15 and 16.

The study was funded as part of the Post-Sandy Planning Assistance Grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

On Dec. 2, township-based T&M Associates presented its results, determining that the area evidenced conditions that qualify it to be designated as an “area in need of redevelopment.”

A hearing was held at the Planning Board’s Dec. 2 meeting for those interested or who would possibly be affected by a determination that the properties in the investigation area were in need of redevelopment.

“T&M did a great job on the report, and the area really has so much potential,” Scharfenberger said. “It is not the easiest thing, there are a couple of challenges we have to deal with, but I think it is well worth it.

“The potential is endless for what we can do there, and I think this is something the whole town will really be proud of if we can get this of the ground.”

Publicly owned property, either by Monmouth County or the township, makes up the predominant land use in the study area, according to the report, and includes the Belford Ferry Terminal, a commuter parking area, a landfill site, the Sewerage Authority, a leaf compost site and some generally wooded and undeveloped wetland areas around Ware Creek.

Residential properties in the study area are located on Main Street, Palmer Avenue, north of Broadway and adjacent to Compton Creek and according to the report are single-family detached residential dwellings.

Commercial property is dispersed throughout the western half of the study area, with the Belford Seafood Co-op owning some, the Atlantic Pier Company owning some and other sites such as a storage and construction yard along Compton Creek, vacant property on Main Street and auto repair and storage uses on Center Avenue.

“We passed a resolution this evening authorizing the designation of an area in need of redevelopment for the Port of Belford, which is an initiative I think is critical … and a good first step towards a new potential big ratable for the township,” Deputy Mayor Anthony Fiore said.

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