To the editor:-
As the Courthouse Square project nears the end of the local approval process, a flurry of misinformation about this project continues to circulate, much of it by members of Flemington Borough Council who oppose the project. A recent example is the implication that there is something wrong with the financial agreement just because the first draft was written by the redeveloper.
The 2017 redeveloper agreement, which underpins almost everything in the project, was drafted by the borough. Now we are about to vote on a financial agreement that specifies the payments the borough will receive in lieu of property taxes.
The state redevelopment statute requires the developer to submit an application and a financial agreement to the mayor, who may then recommend it to the council. So it is both logical and customary that the developer writes the first draft of the financial agreement. Our redevelopment attorney advised the redevelopment committee (Councilwoman Brooke Warden, Councilman Michael Harris, and me) of this early in the year, before there was a draft. No member of the committee objected to the redeveloper preparing the initial draft.
Misinformation from Council members might be corrected – or avoided in the first place – if these officials would review information that is readily available on the borough web site or speak with the redeveloper or our redevelopment attorney. Had they done that, they would not be telling you that your taxes will go up because of this project (they won’t), that you will get stuck with expensive sewer and water infrastructure costs (you won’t), that the developer’s contribution to a new water well will be reduced by credits (it won’t), or that we just sign off on whatever the redeveloper proposes (we don’t).
After the last election, Mr. Cust said he would be happy to meet with newly elected officials Michael Harris and Betsy Driver. They refused, saying that any meeting had to be held in public. Councilman Harris did meet with Mr. Cust two months later, after I asked him to serve with me on the redevelopment committee.
I recently spoke with Mr. Cust about the misinformation on social media. I asked if he is willing to sit with the three of us (Councilperson Driver, Councilman Harris, and me). He said he would on the condition that Curtis Leeds (TapInto) and/or Mike Deak (The Courier News) be at the meeting so the discussion can be recorded and impartially and accurately reported.
I would be happy to meet on these terms. Ms, Driver and Mr. Harris, how about you?
Phil Greiner, Mayor