BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- If ordinances introduced Tuesday night are adopted next month, the speed limit on sections of Springfield Avenue will drop, left turns onto Timber Drive from Mountain Avenue during certain hours will be prohibited, and parking regulations on Burlington Road will change. In addition, new rules will apply to the management of vacant and abandoned properties. 

Before those ordinances were introduced at the Oct. 29 meeting, council adopted the redevelopment plan for the former Mondelli Property and approved an application for a long-term tax exemption and execution of the financial agreement with Berkeley Crossing Urban Renewal, LLC., for property at 663 & 665 Springfield Ave. and 88 River Road -- previously known as Berkeley Florist.

The ordinances which were introduced included ones addressing:

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  • Parking on Burlington Road, which prohibits parking stopping, or standing on the entire length of the north side of Burlington Road and prohibits parking on the entire length of the south side of Burlington Road from 8 to 9 a.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. on school days.
  • Left turns onto Timber Drive, which prohibits left turns from Mountain Avenue onto Timber Drive between the hours of 6:30 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.
  • The speed limit on Springfield Avenue, which will be changed to 30-miles-per-hour from the center of Lawrence Drive to the center of Passaic Avenue. The other portions of the road, from the New Providence line to Lawrence Drive and from Passaic Avenue to the Long Hill and Berkeley Heights township line, will remain 40-miles-per=-hour.
  • An ordinance related to abandoned or vacant properties adds a new chapter, Chapter 8.57 to Title 8 of The Code of the Township of Berkeley Heights (Health and Safety). 

The ordinance is designed to “encourage and incentivize the productive use of unoccupied commercial, industrial and residential properties that are deemed to be vacant or abandoned.”

The ordinance requires the owner of a vacant property to file a registration statement for each vacant property he/she/it owns on forms provided by the township within a stated time limit and to renew it annually as long as the building is vacant. The owners (or person who registers the property) must submit a mid-year update reflecting all changes in registration or certifying there have been no changes. The owner must also notify the township clerk within 10 days of any change in the registration information.  

If the home is being restored, the owner is exempt for 12 months from paying the vacant property registration fee.

The registration fee is $500 for the initial registration, which increases to $1,500 for the first renewal, $3,000 for the second renewal, and $5,000 for each subsequent renewal.

The owners of vacant property must secure the building from unauthorized entry; post a sign on the building with the owner’s name, address and phone number or the authorized agent’s information; maintain the building and make repairs within five days of notice of broken windows, doors and other openings. 

There are other administrative details, including penalties and fines associated with violations. 

The construction official will identify abandoned properties and place them on a list, report to the governing body every six months, as well as the township clerk and fire chief, on abandoned properties.

There are also details in the ordinance related to properties subject to foreclosure, including fines for violating the article. Details of this ordinance can be found here on Page 91 of the agenda.

The public hearings on these ordinances will be held at the council meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18. 

Public hearings for ordinances adopting the redevelopment plan for the former Mondelli property and for the Berkeley Crossing 

The ordinance adopting the redevelopment plan for the former Mondelli Property was introduced on Oct .15. It includes drawings, renderings and plans for the property, located on Plainfield Avenue, across from Veterans Memorial Park. The council referred the redevelopment plan to the Planning Board for their comments and recommendations. The board adopted a resolution memorializing its determination and returned the plan to the council.

Under the ordinance, the redevelopment plan for the property includes language making the redeveloper “responsible for completing the construction of the park as well as maintenance, repair and replacement of initial amenities and landscaping.” Because that language is in the revised redevelopment agreement, “the requirement runs with the land,” the ordinance reads.

This ordinance can be found on Page 5 of the agenda here.

The second ordinance to be adopted approving an application for a long-term tax exemption and authorizing the execution of a financial agreement with Berkeley Crossing Urban Renewal, LLC, can be found on page 45 of the agenda here.

The development will consist of two buildings with a total of 45 units, 36 of which will be market rate and the remaining nine will be affordable units. Two of those affordable units were slated to be built in the development on the Mondelli property by the same redeveloper, and were added to the Berkeley Crossing project, with approval from all the appropriate agencies.

At the October 15 meeting of the council, Matt Jessup, the Township’s Bond Counsel said the long term financial agreement “is in all aspects a PILOT,” in that failure to pay the required payments will result in a tax lien. 

Unlike the previously signed PILOT agreements, this long term agreement will have the developer pay 11 percent of the annual gross revenues of the project to the municipality for years one through seven, and 12.5 percent of the annual gross revenues of the project during years eight through 30. Union County will receive five percent of each of those payments, with 95 percent of the payments staying in the municipality, he said. In years one through seven,  one percent of the amount being collected with be dedicated to “community benefit,” and, in years eight through 30, 2.5 percent will be earmarked for community benefit, to be used “as the council desires,” Jessup said. 

This development will be done in two phases, with the larger structure, Building One, being the first to be developed. The current occupants of the property where Building Two will be constructed were granted “life estate” rights and can continue to occupy the property as long as they choose said Jessup.