Letters to the Editor

Questions Remain on Union Hotel Plan


To the editor:

Flemington Borough Council released a statement on Friday that a newly-revised redevelopment plan would “preserve” the Union Hotel. I’m aware the Borough-owned property at 90-100 Main Street will also be saved. These are two of four historic buildings originally targeted for demolition by the borough’s designated redeveloper. While this is welcome news, significant questions remain.

From the beginning, those in favor of the proposed project claimed the iconic buildings were “blighted” and beyond repair, while ignoring the fact that the project’s eight stories and urban density more than doubles the approved 2015 Master Plan.

Sign Up for E-News

This project remains ridiculously out of scale for our rural county seat, being more suited to the commuter rail connected City of New Brunswick. And it encroaches on our historic district, one of the largest in the state. We are told economic feasibility is the driver, but like so much of this redevelopment plan few such details have been offered by the redevelopment committee, which includes Mayor Phil Greiner and Councilpersons Brian Swingle and Brooke Liebowitz.

It’s notable that over the past 15 years numerous small scale redevelopments of historic buildings have been done successfully in Flemington - without taxpayer financed 30 year Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) or burdening rate payers with tens of millions in sewer and water infrastructure improvements that will take decades to pay for. Why can’t developer Jack Cust, with his experience and clear economies of scale, manage to do the same as the “little guys” and turn a fair profit with a plan that conforms to the 2015 Master Plan?

As a commercial property owner in Flemington and a Raritan Township residential property owner for more than 15 years, I’m concerned about the tax and utility cost implications of this blatant millionaire welfare. The project’s questionable economic benefits offer taxpayers poor bang for the buck, eroding our already weak tax base.

Saving a couple of historic buildings does not address the real issues with the current proposal besides inappropriate height and density. Despite Borough Council’s approval of the developer agreement and clear support for the project, there has been no traffic study to demonstrate how the narrow historic grid, with one-way and no through streets, can handle the capacity of a 900 car parking garage. And what will be the impact of this traffic on the neighboring residents’ quality of life?

As with the previous two failed Union Hotel redevelopers, Mayor Greiner and Council have signed a developer agreement with no due diligence regarding the developer’s personal financial capabilities or his ability to finance a project many times more substantial that he’s ever done. A bank would never lend tens of millions without this information and without a personal guarantee, so why is the borough effectively doing the same with its PILOT and funding of utility infrastructure upgrades?

The developer agreement calls for a two-phase project that allows eight years for completion with no guarantees phase two will be built and, when push comes to shove, no recourse for the borough. Market conditions could change. Is this the instant gratification so many are seeking, including the borough retailers and restaurateurs who claim to be struggling?

If properly managed by Borough Council using Requests for Proposals (RFPs), as was last done in 2012 before the redevelopment area was expended beyond the Union Hotel site, a series of smaller scale projects not requiring enormous infrastructure upgrades and years of construction disruption could happen virtually right away, simultaneously. This spreads the risk and minimizes disruption. The borough putting its eggs all in one basket with a single enormous project, with the poorly constructed, one sided agreement it has negotiated, is very, very dicey.

I’m all in favor of adaptive reuse of our exceptional historic building stock and appropriate new development that conforms to the 2015 Master Plan. But I call on Mayor Greiner and Council to take a smarter, more expeditious and more fiscally responsible approach to the Borough’s redevelopment. Let’s not miss an opportunity to do something great.

Gary Schotland, Raritan Township

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


A Man of 'Deep Pockets, Sterling Character'

June 19, 2018

To the editor:

At a meeting of Flemington Borough Council earlier this year, Mayor Phil Greiner described Jack Cust as a man of “deep pockets and sterling character.” He seemed to be attempting to justify his basis for selecting a new redeveloper, after the first two selected by a committee he was part of, or led, failed at the project. Initially the project was to find someone to ...

End 'Gun Free Zones,' Harden Soft Targets

To the editor:

In response to the Governor's recent signing of legislation restricting law-abiding gun owners to 10 rounds of ammunition and rejecting calls to address the uneven playing field existing vis-à-vis some single mom alone with her child fending for herself against some armed assailant packing who knows how many rounds is something a Politburo thug would appreciate! The ...

Voter Turnout in Raritan Township

To the editor,

We want to share our admiration for all of the Raritan Township residents who came out to vote in the June 5 Primary Election. Additionally, we want to say "thank you" to our Democratic supporters for their votes.

As we look to the General Election on Nov. 6, we reflect on the importance of this election for our children, seniors and all those in between as we ...

Alzheimer's is Public Health Crisis

To the editor:


With more than 5 million Americans now living with Alzheimer’s and with more than 15 million acting as caregivers, Alzheimer’s has become the nation’s most expensive disease. This year alone, it will cost $277 billion to take care of those stricken. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts that, by 2050, more than 14 million Americans will be ...

Candidates 'Weaponized' News Article

To the editor:

I was dismayed to see my 2014 news reportage inaccurately weaponized by council members Marc Hain and Brooke Warden in their campaign flier attacking Al Brewer. The headline “School security at issue: Flemington-Raritan board member accused of leaking secrets” is less than a half-truth, given the ensuing revelation.

Marc and Brook ignored my follow-up report in ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, June 19, 12:00 PM

Al Fresco's, Flemington

Small-biz-Networking Meetup

Business & Finance

Mon, June 25, 9:00 AM

Flemington Public Library, Flemington

Coding Camp at Mediatech



AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

A Man of 'Deep Pockets, Sterling Character'

June 19, 2018

To the editor:

At a meeting of Flemington Borough Council earlier this year, Mayor Phil Greiner described Jack Cust as a man of “deep pockets and sterling character.” He seemed to be attempting to justify his basis for selecting a new redeveloper, after the first two selected by a committee he was part of, or led, failed at the project. Initially the project was to find someone to ...

Driver, Runion, Giles-McCormick, Kick-Off Campaign

June 19, 2018

FLEMINGTON, NJ — Borough Mayor candidate Betsy Driver and Borough Council candidates Chris Runion and Caitlin Giles-McCormick have joined their campaigns in advance of the Nov. 6, 2018 election.

Since winning her campaign to become a Borough Councilperson, Betsy Driver has already passed resolutions to get Council meetings streamed live and videotaped for later viewing; a tuition credit ...