Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ- Update

Well, Hamilton is still trying to figure out what they're going to do about agreeing to vastly overpay for Klockner Woods. Last week they finally hired a surveyer to comply with the Department of Environmental Protection's order for a wetlands review. Van Note Harvey Assoc. will take no more than 30 days to finish the job. It's a shame that the deadline to begin paying Fieldstone is in 8 days.

And this week, documents were revealed that show the township planners knew last year that 41 lots was most likely not feasable. The chief planner, Allen Schectel, reviewed the original plan for 48 homes and felt that there were more wetlands than Fieldstone assumed. The memo eliminates seven units and suggests that more would be lost once a flood plain and wetland survey was completed. None was ever done; a year later, Hamilton agreed to pay $4.1 million based on an incomplete assesment of a plan that didn't include surveys recommended by their own planners.


Our best hope here is, as stated by township spokesman Rich McClellan, "If the township finds there was any misrepresentation involved in the information provided by the developer as part of the negotiating process, we will petition the judge to vacate the consent judgment." Maybe someone should have looked for any misrepresentation before agreeing to overpay with township, county and state money. Or at least listened to the planners who said a survey should be in order.


DBK said...

I have to ask: what the hell was going on with your town council or whoever was in charge of this? It sounds like a lot of incompetence or laziness. Or worse.

Sharon GR said...

I wouldn't rule out corruption, either. The developer donated to the current mayor's campaign fund, of course. The Times of Trenton also reported a few months back that Fieldstone's attorney stated that Mayor Glen Gilmore promised to allow building of a large apartment development if the developer would wait until after his election to submit the plan. Gilmore denies this, to no one's surprize.

Based on the amount I've blogged about this, it may be surprizing to know that I don't live in Hamilton. It's a huge (87,000+ people) town right next to Trenton, so the issue affects many residents of Central NJ. PLUS, the county of Mercer is obligated to kick in $300,000 towards the purchase, so all residents of Mercer are affected. PLUS, most of the money for the purchase comes from Our Fair State's Green Acres program and a low-interest loan from the NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust, so all residents of New Jersey are paying for this.

We need open space preserved, especially in this area. This piece of land is mostly wetland and absolutely must be left alone. What steams me so is the exhorbitant price being paid, based on no research or information to speak of, and the complacency of most of the council in the decisions. I'm not sure which explanation would be worst: incompetence, laziness or corruption. This deal appears to be a combination of all three.