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Bellmawr Feature Stories Local Government News Recent News

Bellmawr Mayor & Council At Odds Over BDA; Is a 100,000 Sq. Ft. Warehouse for Marijuana Planned for Redevelopment Area?

The May 24, 2018 monthly Bellmawr Mayor and Council meeting grew heated at several points as the governing body disagreed over raising taxes as well as a Resolution that called for rescinding the Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority (BDA).

Prior to the matter being brought to a vote, Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek asked to wait a month before this is voted on so that a meeting can be scheduled for all involved principals. He stated that Council previously voted 6-0 to appoint commissioners to the BDA. “Why are we changing it?” he asked.

Councilman Jamie Casey stated: “Council continues to hear that the Board is doing things behind their backs. That is why.” He stated that professional appointments were approved.  “We understand that there are already plans for the waterfront property that Council had no idea for,” he said.

At one point, Councilman Jim D’Angelo asked about a recent presentation and Councilman Paul DeAngelis said that as a town councilman, he had no idea that the “marijuana people” had proposed plans that would include building a 100,000 square foot warehouse on the landfill /redevelopment area.

Mayor Filipek responded: “They had to go to the developer [to see] if they can fit you or they have you in their future. That’s the redeveloper. We don’t own that property.”

Councilman DeAngelis stated he saw a picture and was told that solar panels were also proposed for the landfill/redevelopment area and that “outside growing” was being prepared for.  DeAngelis said he was told: “The State of New Jersey is going to go forward into an outside growing area, which means they will have to have a giant fenced in area for outside growing of marijuana, also inside in a 100,000 square foot building.”

Mayor Filipek spoke about permission being needed from Washington and that the matter will still “come in front of Mayor and Council and also the Planning Board to put their plans down because nothing is finalized until they come to Mayor and Council or the Planning Board.”

Councilman Casey said that a 99-year lease was offered.

Mayor Filipek reiterated that this is still proposed.

Several motions were made. First to bring the matter back off of the table. Second, for Council to vote on the Resolution which would rescind the creation of the Borough of Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency.

Initially, Councilmen Paul DeAngelis, Jamie Casey, and Jim D’Angelo voted yes (to rescind the BDA) and Councilmen Steve Sauter, Steven Hagerty, and Ray Bider voted no — leaving a tie. Mayor Filipek broke the tie by voting no (not to rescind it).

Later on, Councilman Steve Sauter stated that he made an error with his vote and thought he was voting to re-table the motion until a meeting could be arranged for all principals to meet and have their questions and concerns addressed.

That motion carried, which means the matter still remains on the table until such time that a meeting can be arranged.

Voting yes were: Councilmen Paul DeAngelis, Steve Sauter, Steve Hagerty and Ray Bider. Councilman Jamie Casey abstained and Councilman Jim D’Angelo voted no.

Watch: Exclusive SJO Video Excerpt of Bellmawr Council’s May 24, 2018 meeting:

 

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Bellmawr Feature Stories Local Government News Recent News

Bellmawr Council Tables Resolutions Regarding BDA

On April 26, 2018, Bellmawr Council voted to table two Resolutions with regard to the Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority (BDA).

Those Resolutions were: #04-127-18 and #04:128-18.

During the Public Portion, SJO asking for an explanation about those Resolutions.

Council President, Steve Sauter, responded: “We are still in discussion about that” and said that a motion would be made to table them.

When those two Resolutions were brought to a vote, Councilmen Paul DeAngelis, Steve Sauter, Steve Hagerty and Ray Bider voted to table them. Councilmen Jamie Casey and Jim D’Angelo voted no.

The BDA meets next on Monday, May 21, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. at Bellmawr Borough Hall.

View Bellmawr Council’s April 26, 2018 Agenda below:

 

 

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Bellmawr Feature Stories News Recent News

BDA Commissioners Name Exec. Director & Approve Professional Appointments

On April 16, 2018, the Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority (BDA) Commissioners voted to name Josh Tregear as Executive Director and also approved him as the authorized person to prepare, code, and sign purchase orders for the Authority. He is also the the Borough’s Business Administrator.

SJO asked if there was a salary attached to the Executive Director position. Authority solicitor Michael McKenna responded in part: “We were required to put a budget together… We took that budget to the local government finance board. That budget was made in collaboration with my office, the administrator’s office, and the redeveloper.”

McKenna said it was important that the re-developer consent to it because they are paying for it and agreed to it.

The FY 2018 approved, proposed budget was approved on March 24, 2018 and listed the salary and wages as $25,000 and fringe benefits as $2,500.

Screenshot taken from FY 2018 Proposed Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority Budget

Professional Services Appointments

Professional Services Appointments were approved as follows:

  • Authority Architect – Garrison Architects
  • Authority Auditor – Bowman & Company
  • Authority Engineer and Planner – Remington & Vernick
  • Authority Risk Consultant – Connor Strong & Buckelew
  • Authority Solicitor – Michael McKenna, Esquire

Additionally, a Resolution was approved authorizing Big Timber Junction, LLC to submit an application for the Riparian Grant.

The Resolution indicates: “The … parkand project requires application for Riparian Grants from the State of New Jersey which will also be undertaken at the sole cost of Big Timber Junction LLC including the application fees, legal expenses and associated costs and funding of the costs of the grant itself…”

Paul DeAngelis asked for clarification regarding the application for the Riparian Grant.

Editor’s Note: Riparian Rights are defined as certain rights of all landowners whose properties abut a running body of water, such as a river or stream.

Solicitor McKenna responded that there are two places on the property. “None of them on the Borough’s Phase 3, rather on Phases 1 and 2 in which lands formerly flowed by tidal waters.”

He continued: “Even if they’re not presently flowed, [they] are subject to State ownership. In order to either cross or develop those, we have to basically buy them. In addition, there are dots of suspected lands now flowed or formerly flowed. It’s a science in identifying those. The redeveloper has been working on this for about 12 years…They had to get a license in order to cross these areas to do the remediation. It is now time to buy the license. That has to be processed at some considerable expense.”

“They are going to undertake it with some considerable forensic support — engineers, architects, appraisers, etc. Again, their dime. Ultimately, it has to be purchased — their dime. However, it has been determined that it ought to be processed in our name at this time. So, we are processing the application in our name as a co-applicant as the future intended owner. Under the law, that is called an ‘equitable owner.’ But right now, they are the owners and …we are going to cooperate in that.”

The BDA meets next on Monday, May 21, 2018 in the Courtroom of Bellmawr Borough Hall.

Click the image below to view the April 16, 2018 Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority Agenda.

*Article posted April 18, 2018 10:45 a.m.
*Updated: 11:10 a.m.

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Appointees to the Bellmawr RDA Sworn In; 2018 Temporary Budget Approved

Appointees to the Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority were sworn in on March 14, 2018. During that meeting, Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek was named chairman and Bellmawr Councilman Ray Bider was elected vice-chairman/acting secretary. Additionally, a temporary budget for 2018 was approved.

Attorney Michael McKenna, who is special counsel for the redevelopment, swore in Mayor Frank Filipek (1-year term), Councilman Ray Bider (1-year term), Jay Garagozzo (3-year term), Runnemede Mayor Nick Kappatos  (3-year term), Deptford Mayor Paul Medany (4-year term), Tom Whitman (5-year term), and Enil Patel (5-year term).

In February, Bellmawr Council voted to approve a seven person committee to serve on the Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority.

Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority
From left: Tom Whitman, Runnemede Mayor Nick Kappatos, Deptford Mayor Paul Medany, Attorney Michael McKenna, Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek, Jay Garagozzo, and Enil Patel.  Not pictured is Ray Bider, who was absent. (Photos by SJO)

Mayor Frank Filipek thanked those who are serving on the committee. Addressing Deptford Mayor Paul Medany and Runnemede Mayor Nick Kappatos, Filipek said: “Deptford has a piece of it [the landfill], Runnemede has a piece of it, and Bellmawr has a piece of it… We want to make sure that we don’t hurt any town, but try to help and … share equally in what we do. I think this redevelopment will be nice for all three towns.”

All business on the meeting agenda was approved, except three Resolutions were tabled:

  • Resolution Appointing an Executive Director
  • Resolution Designating Bank Depositories and Authorized Signatures
  • Resolution Designating Authorized Person to Prepare, Code, and Sign Purchases Orders for the Authority.

Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority

Regarding the temporary budget that was approved, Michael McKenna stated that when Bellmawr Borough Solicitor, Robert Messick, and Borough Administrator, Josh Tregear, went to the State to get approval to form the Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority, the budget had to be vetted by the Local Public Finance Board. “And it was,” he said.  “We do have a temporary budget that has been vetted by the State and approved by the State and allows us to operate.”

McKenna also said: “This was a collaborative effort [with] the developer, who is funding all of the expenses for this. This is not costing the Borough a dime, but it is not charity. This is what happens with redevelopment. They have to foot the bill for the project that they are in. It has been put together and vetted by the State.”

Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority

The Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority will meet next on Monday, April 16 at 5:00 p.m. Meetings will be held on the third Monday of each month at 5:00 p.m. in the courtroom of Bellmawr Borough Hall.