BRIDGEWATER, NJ - It appears the old Redwood Inn will finally be coming down.
The Bridgewater Township Council introduced a pair of ordinances Oct. 5 for the public sale of the 7.641-acre property at 1475 Mountain Top Road, plus an appropriation of $200,000 to demolish the existing building on the site.
The public hearing on both ordinances is scheduled for Oct. 19.
“The history there is long and detailed,” said township administrator Michael Pappas of the property. “It’s a necessary action.”
The fair market value of Lots 36 and 37 in Block 653 at the address, which is owned by the township, is $1,750,000, as determined by the municipal tax assessor, according to the resolution.
Regarding the public bidding process, Pappas said the figure had been discussed with both the township attorney and the tax assessor, whom he said understand the property better than anyone.
“There’s been a great deal of analysis,” said Pappas.
He said the hope is, if everything move forward, that the township will be able to sell the property and attract a contractor who will maintain the area.
The planning board, in early September, approved a plan for the Redwood Inn site that involves the building of seven homes on the property. The demolition of the catering hall was part of the approved plan.
The township acquired the Redwood Inn site in 2015 as part of a legal settlement with Al Falah, which wanted to build a mosque on the site, an application that was subsequently denied. Al Falah alleged that zoning against the building of a religious structure was not instituted until after the application for the mosque had been submitted, and filed a lawsuit against the township.
As part of the agreement, the township purchased 15 acres on Route 202/206 between Harding and West Foothill roads for $2.75 million.
It then swapped that land with the Redwood Inn property so Al Falah could build its mosque on Route 202/206 after residents and town planners raised concerns about traffic and other issued with the Redwood Inn site.
“There’s been a very extensive environmental review,” said councilman Howard Norgalis of the property work, which included asbestos abatement.
Councilman Timothy Ring said the property has been sitting for years, decaying.
“I’d like to see something done with it,” he said.
Council vice president Filipe Pedroso said he would abstain from voting on the measure. He said zoning on the site had been switched from R-50 (residential) to R-40 (single family and multiple dwelling residential), which he had originally voted against.
He added that he knew that had occurred under a previous administration and that the property needed to be sold, which he had no problem with, although he still believed it should have remained an R-50 zone. The final tally on the first ordinance was four affirmative votes and Pedroso’s abstention.
The second ordinance authorized the issuance of $190,000 bonds or notes of the township for financing part of the $200,000 appropriation for demolition of the existing building.
Pappas said the ordinance is for the demolition and removal of all material on the site, including the parking lot and driveway, so that it can be sold as a “clean” property. He also said there is a sense of what needs to be contained environmentally, and that if the ordinance is approved at the public hearing, the town could go through the bidding process and hopefully get started on the project in November.
Norgalis reiterated that there are environmental issues on the property.
“It’s best to go ahead with the demolition,” he said.
He added that the analysis had taken months, and that the town wants to go ahead with the demolition and project this year, which he labeled as a “good strategy.”
The council approved the second ordinance introduction, with Pedroso again abstaining.