Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ- 40 lots and a scam?

It turns out that forty lots will fit on the Klockner Woods property in Hamilton, according to a recent consultant's plan. This kind of justifies the price that was agreed to for the property, right? Right?

Except the way they did it was to reduce the lot size:

The plan by Van Note-Harvey Associates that Hamilton released yesterday shows that 40 lots could be carved out of the property off of Klockner Road without being built on top of the protected wetlands comprising one-third of the land.
Many of the lots in the Van Note-Harvey plan are smaller than those in an earlier plan drawn up for Fieldstone Associates, which sold the property to the township last year.
Council President Tom Goodwin, who had not seen the plan yesterday afternoon, questioned its conclusions and asked who ordered Van Note-Harvey to lower the lot sizes.
"Gilmore is just trying to maximize whatever he can to say he's right," said Goodwin.

And, who exactly did say they could lower lot sizes? How low can they go? Does this even justify the $4.1 million price tag for land that only cost $375,000 a few years earlier?

The council members who were trying to get this deal annulled are still on that hunt. The interest paid by Hamilton has topped $380,000- now more than the original purchase price. And while the posturing and finger-pointing goes on, the interest accumulates.


Janet said...

What types of houses are they building there? Single family? Townhomes? What about average cost?

Sharon GR said...

They're not building anything; they're buying back the land for preservation. (Well, maybe that would explain the change in lot size, if someone suddenly authorized duplexes or something like that.)

Here's the background: In 2001, developers Fieldstone Associates bought the Klockner Woods property in Hamilton for $375,000. Much of the property is wetlands and many developers had passed on the deal already. In 2004, an appraisal of the land was done, finding 27 suitable home sites and valued the property between $1.25 and $1.34 million. So to preserve it for open space, how much is Hamilton buying it back for?

$4.1 million. Based on 41 (not 27) homesites worth $100,000 each. Really.

The reason this whole deal is fleecing Hamilton and NJ is most of the cost will be funded by Our Fair State, with Mercer County kicking in $300,000, and there is hope that a few nonprofits will kick in as well. Yes- "hope." Hamilton didn't go the "Eminent domain" route; so, they avoided spending a few grand on court battle that they probably would have won.

The whole deal stinks. And we're all paying for it, even if you don't live in Hamilton.