Government

Union Hotel Plan is Target of Debate

The Flemington Furs site on Spring Street is part of the proposed expanded redevelopment area. Credits: Curtis Leeds / TAPinto Flemington-Raritan file photo
The tax map shows blocks 22 and 24, which comprise phases one and two respectively of the proposed construction.

FLEMINGTON, NJ – Borough Council will hold its regular meeting Monday, and officials are expected to vote on whether to accept the proposed redevelopment agreement with Jack Cust.

Details of the agreement, released yesterday, show an expanded area for development that now includes the property where Flemington Furs is located. The full agreement has since been posted to the borough’s website.

The plan is still in its early phases. If the redeveloper’s agreement is adopted, “pre-construction activities are expected to take nine to 24 months, including outside agency approvals and demolition,” according to a summary of the agreement on the borough site. It says the hotel part of the project could require another two years before completion.

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Everyone seems to agree that something needs to be done to address the decaying, privately-owned Union Hotel and bring economic development to Main Street here. But there is no universal agreement that this is the plan best suited for that.

Borough Council members themselves do not agree. Mayor Phil Greiner has repeatedly stated at public meetings that he believes residents support the plan.

Former Councilman Joey Novick has told the mayor there are reasons to question that claim. He notes that Councilwoman Susan Peterson, who was elected last fall, ran almost solely on a platform that opposed the Cust plan.

Former Councilman Alan Brewer plans to again seek election to Council. He told the mayor at Council’s Feb. 27 meeting that while seeking signatures for his election bid, he found only one in 15 residents like the plan as shown. That’s an unscientific sampling, of course.

Another unscientific sampling is being conducted by Friends of Historic Flemington. Members of that group have been vocal opponents of the draft plan; its website states the group seeks to “advocate for the adaptive reuse of Flemington’s significant historic buildings, including the Union Hotel, as critical components of a thoughtfully designed and properly scaled downtown development.” The Friends group has set up a survey on its website to gauge public reaction to the proposal.

Monday’s Council meeting will be held in the old Historic Courthouse on Main Street. A public work session will begin at 7 p.m., with the regular meeting to follow at 7:30. The vote on the redevelopment plan is on the agenda, along with a separate vote to be taken to authorize the renewal of the liquor license for Stagecoach Liquors, LLC.

Stagecoach Liquors in owned by Cust. A requirement in the draft redevelopment plan requires Cust to dedicate the license to the Union Hotel project. That stipulation would be voided if Cust is able to obtain an additional liquor license. Under state rules, Cust could be entitled to a license if the hotel he builds includes 100 rooms or more.

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To the editor:

Is this the first of many broken promises?

At the Flemington Borough Council meeting on Aug. 22, 2016, Jack Cust presented his Main Street redevelopment plan, and when questioned if it would increase taxes for Borough ratepayers, the developer promised that “any infrastructure costs would be absorbed by the development.” Cust made the following ...