‘Does not take anything off the table’

Pennington Borough Hall at 30 N Main St. in Pennington.

Pennington seeks redevelopment designation for landfill

The process to designate Pennington landfill land as an area in need of redevelopment could soon begin when the Council convenes for its August meeting.

The landfill is located between West Delaware Avenue and Broemel Place as area in need of redevelopment. A resolution for the designation is on the agenda for the meeting on Aug. 7.

“We are still in the environmental investigation on the landfill,” Mayor James Davy said. “There is a question on whether or not to proceed now with [landfill] designation as an area in need of redevelopment [in order] to position ourselves ultimately to do something with the landfill based on when the outcome of the environmental investigation is complete.”

Borough Planner James Kyle, KMA Associates, informed the Council about the area in need of redevelopment designation and redevelopment process on July 10.

“Again, this does not take anything off the table,” Council President Catherine Chandler said. “As I have been saying since 2017, all options for that site are still available. The [designation] just gives us the control if we do decide to go with a developer. Again, that does not mean we will.”

Kyle said having the designation will put the landfill in a better position for redevelopment.

The Borough does not need to have a redevelopment plan in place at the time, however the designation does give the Borough the ability to offer a potential redeveloper the option to come in and work with us on a redevelopment plan, he added.

“A lot of times what we do is rely on the developer to tell us what they think the best scheme for the property is,” Kyle said. “It gives us something to react to. Generally, we are better off negotiating the concept and then writing a redevelopment plan around that once we all agree on what the good approach is.”

He noted that the area in need of redevelopment designation provides benefits and options such as a payment in lieu of taxes [PILOT] arraignment and allows engagement in a planning process.

“A lot of times we will sit, start with a developer’s plan, review it, negotiate and change this and tweak that and when we get to a point where we are all happy, then we can have a public process,” Kyle said, adding a lot of beneficial options are available in the planning process including workshops.

“It essentially allows us to write new zoning by a parcel-by-parcel basis or group of parcels,” he said.

The Pennington Council needs to adopt a resolution authorizing the Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation. Professionals will then prepare a report and go through redevelopment law. Picking criteria from A through H, they will analyze the property or properties against the criteria.

“We only need to meet one [criteria] for a property to be deemed an area in need of redevelopment,” Kyle said.

After that the Planning Board holds a public hearing and reviews the report. They will need to adopt a resolution and make a recommendation to Pennington Council. Council will then have to decide to action on designating the landfill as an area in need of redevelopment through a resolution.

“We send it to the Commissioner of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs [DCA] and they have 30 days to approve or deny,” Kyle said. “If after 30 days, they do nothing it is assumed to have been approved and then after that the area is designated and then we can move on to the planning process.

“As part of the Planning process, you as the governing body can assume control of that redevelopment plan or delegate to the Planning Board.”

Kyle said the preliminary investigation process is not going to be too expensive.

“I would say no more than $2,500,” he said. “At that point we can pause, if we get the designation in place. It allows us to start to market the property as an area in need of redevelopment and then we can say we could offer you a financial incentive.

“We will work with you on the redevelopment plan. The redevelopment plan is really the more costly aspect of the process.”

There has been interest in the property from electric and gas company PSE&G, according to Interim Borough Administrator Donato Nieman.

Excel Environmental Resources, North Brunswick, is currently conducting the environmental investigation at the landfill.