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Bellmawr Council Authorizes Revisions for Waterfront Park; Approves Redevelopment Agency

Bellmawr Council approved a Resolution authorizing Remington & Vernick to prepare revisions to the Bellmawr Waterfront Development Plan to depict the Waterfront Park. An Ordinance creating the Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency was also approved.

At their October 26, 2017 monthly meeting, Bellmawr Council approved Resolution #10-233-17, which authorizes the Borough’s engineers, Remington & Vernick, to prepare revisions to the Bellmawr Waterfront Development Plan to depict the Waterfront Park.

Bellmawr Waterfront Development
Photo of the proposed area for the future waterfront park taken by SJO.

Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency

Also at Council’s meeting, Ordinance #09-16-17 was approved, which creates the Borough of Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency pursuant to the local redevelopment and housing law.

Michael McKenna, who has been appointed special counsel for the Bellmawr Waterfront Development project, provided an explanation about the Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency.

Calling it a “real good idea,” McKenna stated: “Council’s already introduced it. The State is waiting on a copy of it so that we can complete our application.”

He continued by saying there are multiple ways to do a redevelopment property. “One of them is for the Borough to be the entity. Another is for there to be a redevelopment agency.”

McKenna said he favored a redevelopment agency “for a number of reasons. “One, because this is a very substantial redevelopment project that is going to be going on for a long time. It’s not a part-time, small thing. It’s going to require a lot of effort, a lot of expertise. The commissioners are volunteers, but they have a five-year term. So, there will be stability.”

The commissioners cannot be all Council people and public employees, he said. “It will be people from the community, so you’ve got stability there.”

He continued: “You’re going to need to develop some expertise and quite candidly, it is a step removed.”

McKenna spoke of the environmental piece by saying: “We’ve already had the environmental aspects of it reviewed very, very carefully. We are now satisfied that subject to it being finished — and it’s very near finishing — that the property is going to be safe. It has been remediated properly. It has been overseen properly and we’ve had engineers say to us as much and certified it. But for all that, you can never be too careful.”

He said that a buffer agency, instead of the Borough, “is a really, really good idea in addition to those other ideas.”

If the Borough had to be the redevelopment agency, which is the more normal course with more simpler jobs, McKenna explained, then Borough staff would have to be paid and someone would need to be the director and someone would need to be the accountant.

However, with a redevelopment agency, McKenna stated: “They have their own funding and the funding will be from the revenue sources from the development. So, the same job is getting done, but on the development dime.”