To the editor:
Flemington Mayor Phil Greiner has repeatedly stated that the Redeveloper Agreement with Jack Cust that was approved at the Council Meeting on March 13 will have no cost to the borough for water and sewer work. He needs to stop stating this. It is not correct.
I have provided the mayor with detailed comments on the agreement including the following.
There are only two certainties in the contract regarding water and sewer. The developer has to do all the work inside the site boundary and he has to pay up to $2 million for any new water supply generating wells. All other work is unclear. Because the agreement is weak and has no ambiguity or arbitration clause, Cust has a very strong chance of succeeding in obtaining interpretations in his favor.
The mayor may presume that the public improvements clause requires the redeveloper to do any other work. However, it crucially states “that are included in the plans.” He will aim to do the minimum work possible so he will show only short connections on the plans to the nearest water and sewer pipes. If existing water and sewer pipes need to be repaired or replaced he will claim that is not in his scope and he will have a good case, especially if they are in poor condition as is likely. He will claim replacement is because of lack of maintenance and pipes are primarily serving other properties so he should not be liable. In addition, he is not responsible for any sewer treatment upgrade work because sewer treatment is not included in the definition of “public improvements.”
The mayor’s interpretation also that the redeveloper will not expect a credit for all of the potential $2 million is optimistic. The agreement states that “redeveloper shall receive a dollar for dollar credit for all Public Improvements ... against all water and sewer connection fees.” Greiner seems to interpret “water and sewer connection fees” as meaning only the initial connection charges of a few thousand dollars. However those fees are is not defined in the contract and could be interpreted to mean the future quarterly water supply and sewage discharge fees. The term “dollar for dollar” supports that. Why would he care about a small credit of a few thousand dollars on a $100 million project?
At the Borough Council meeting on March 13, the mayor dismissed my comments as “misinformation that should not have been sent.”
I met with Greiner on March 16 to go over my concerns. I thought we had a productive meeting and he seemed to finally understand that the agreement has massive holes in it and taxpayers are at risk of significant costs. He stated that he planned to produce an addendum to address these concerns.
It was therefore a shock to be told at the Council meeting on April 12 that the mayor had chosen not to correct the agreement because it would take too much effort. It would need another meeting. That is gross incompetence in my opinion.
Mayor Greiner needs to stop saying that the Redeveloper Agreement will have no cost to taxpayers. It is not correct.
Richard Giffen, Flemington