FAIR LAWN, NJ - The Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is preparing to conduct a borough-wide district survey on the possibility of a town-wide Special Improvement District (SID).

Addressing the Fair Lawn Borough Council on December 10, Chairman of the EDC, Steve Weinstein, said the EDC is poised to begin surveying businesses about the viability of a town-wide SID. Currently, the borough has two SID's, River Road and Broadway.

"We're ninth in the county for affordability and 89th in economic health," said Weinstein of Fair Lawn last night before the Borough Council.

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According to the state of New Jersey, a SID is defined as an area within a municipality designated by municipal ordinance in which a special assessment or tax is placed on property within the district, imposed "for the purposes of promoting the economic and general welfare of the district and the municipality."

In November, Don Smartt retired as executive director of the River Road Improvement Corporation and the Broadway Improvement District. Smartt began his tenure in 1992 on River Road, and later, led the Broadway effort to renew the business district.

Maggie Peters, executive director of the EDC, told the council during its work session last night the benefits of improvement districts include a "more vibrant, walkable downtown."

Weinstein said the EDC will meet with representatives of the proposed corridors, which include Morlot Avenue/Banta Place, Saddle River Road, Maple Avenue, 208 Corridor, Columbia Heights, and Radburn/Fair Lawn Avenue.

Weinstein expects the assessments for a borough wide SID to be lower than the current River Road SID (.116%) and Broadway SID (.082%).

Peters developed the survey from 10 similar surveys performed in other municipalities.

The purpose of the survey, Weinstein said, is to develop a list of concerns and encourage businesses to support the development of the SID. The survey would go out to the list of businesses in town. Volunteers from the EDC, if necessary, would fan out to visit businesses individually to get their response.

Council members Cristina Cutrone and Josh Reinitz said they were both concerned about recruiting businesses into the SID while trying to get their honest feedback regarding issues and conditions in their districts they'd like to address.

"I think we'd like to get the facts before we're out there selling the SID," Reinitz said.

Editor's Note: Author Rebecca Greene is a trustee of the Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation.