Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Oceanport Needs to Get Vocal About Fort Redevelopment Again

From Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace ( a copy of the attachments are The Bill and The Response E-Mail)

All-

Please read the attached e-mails from Oceanport resident Jay Coffey regarding Senate Bill 10, the "Monmouth Economic Redevelopment Authority Bill." His concerns regarding this pending legislation are spot on and I couldn't agree more. This issue is time sensitive as it is being discussed in the Senate on Thursday, December 3.

The future of Fort Monmouth has been one of my passions since before I was elected Councilman for the Boro of Oceanport. Unfortunately, Oceanport has been forced to accept many things under the current structure of FMERPA. In fact, Oceanport was one of 2 towns to vote against the Redevelopment Plan in 2008. Many of our residents have been very outspoken in their belief that the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth will not be a benefit for the taxpayers of Oceanport but rather a detriment.

In my position as a Councilman, I have even advocated the possible use of deannexation. Many years ago, the federal government took possession of the land now known as Fort Monmouth for use as an Army base. Deannexation is the process by which Oceanport would refuse reacceptance of this same land. We may be able to simply walk away perhaps leaving the land to another town. Maybe Fort Monmouth would remain it's own entity and become its own community within Monmouth County.

I am deeply concerned about the Fort Monmouth Redevelopment Bill as it currently stands. This Bill is being sponsored by a Senator from Union, New Jersey. While the bill is co-sponsored by a Senator from Monmouth County, I can't help but wonder what interest a Senator from Union has in Monmouth County? What's in it for his district?

Why is this bill being pushed through a "lame duck" session rather than waiting for the new Administration? I believe the voters of New Jersey have spoken and therefore, new legislation should be held until January of next year inorder to insure that the wishes of our State residents are respected. If the voters had wanted the current form of government, I believe our current governor would have been reelected.

My concerns regarding this bill are numerous:

The Bill calls for 5 votes by appointees of the Governor and 4 votes from the towns and County most affected by its passage. Why does the State need a majority? Shouldn't the local communities have a majority say in what occurs in our communities? Again, the voters have placed their trust in Governor Elect Christie. Shouldn't we wait for him to make any/all appointments?

Why does the Governor appoint the Chairman of the Committee? Subsequently, the chairman would appoint a Secretary and a Treasurer. The Chairman should be voted on by the members of the Committee and approved by a majority vote inorder to insure fair representation of the local entities.

What exactly is a Fort Monmouth Special Improvement District? Why do we want this? What exactly is a Transportation Improvement District and why do we want one? What exactly is an Infrastructure District and why do we want one? Do these "districts" involve ratable sharing and COAH sharing across the Fort Monmouth communities? Why can't each community operate on its own within the confines of the plan?

How is COAH going to be handled? While probably not specific to this bill, we would want each town to handle it's own COAH obligations and not share among the "redevelopment district."

Why is the potential use of Eminent Domain included?" Is there a plan for future use? As we've learned from neighboring towns, residents don't look favorably on the use of Eminent Domain by Federal, State or Local Government.

There is no mention of when or how this new Committee will "expire." Do we really need that much oversight here or can each town handle it with the help of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority? Are they trying to create more levels of Government?

I will not stand by while Oceanport gets the short end of the stick. I stand ready to do whatever it takes to stop this from bill from passing in its current form.

I have posted additional information on my Facebook page.

We need your help to stop this Bill from moving forward. Please call Senator Beck and voice your concerns. Her office number is 732-933-1591 or email SenBeck@njleg.org.

Thanks!
Joe


Folks:

For a change, this isn't a sports related or humorous e-mail. Instead, I am writing to alert you to the fact that the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, including our very own State Senator, Jennifer Beck, is looking to push through a last minute bill before the new Governor takes office. This bill will vest control over the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth in a brand new Authority created by the State of New Jersey. Senate Bill No. 10 ( a copy of which is attached to this e-mail for both of you who really like to read legislation), entitled the "Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority Act" is up for consideration on Thursday by the Senate. This bill is being co-sponsored by Senator Ray Lesniak of Union County and Senator Jennifer Beck of Monmouth County. The net effect of this bill is that the State of New Jersey, through its Economic Development Authority, will both staff the newly created Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority AND act as the master developer for the development of the Fort property. Once again, similar to what happened in the previous legislation, the three host communities (Oceanport, Tinton Falls, and Eatontown), the entities having the greatest and most intimate interest in the redevelopment of the Fort, are being given a combined three votes (one for each Mayor) and the State is being given five votes. The ninth voting member is from the County.

Asking you to read and comprehend this bill, which was only introduced on November 23, 2009, is a bit much. I read it last week and I was so outraged by its content that I ended up writing a nine page screed to four of our council members (a copy of the cleaned up version of that screed is also attached to this e-mail). Asking you to read and comprehend my screed at this late date is also a bit much. But I can give you ten reasons why we should be vehemently opposed to this bill and they are set forth at the bottom of this e-mail.

The Borough of Oceanport's Municipal Council meeting has been moved up from December 3rd to December 2nd (tonight at 7:00 pm). This bill will be a hot topic of discussion. If you are ever going to attend a Municipal Council meeting, this would be a good one to go to. Some of Oceanport's elected officials will be going down to Trenton on Thursday to oppose this bill. They will be spitting into the wind, however, without our help. Whether you have the time to read the bill or my screed or not, the fact is that our local elected officials are dead set against the bill. Even if you don't have the time to read the bill, the fact that it is being rushed through in the lame duck session before the new State administration is in place smacks of something being done that is not completely on the up and up. We need to contact Senator Jennifer Beck and tell her that the citizens of Oceanport are against Senate Bill No. 10. and that she should withdraw her co-sponsorship of it at once. She needs to be told, in no uncertain terms, that the residents of Oceanport want this bill to be stopped dead in its tracks right now. Senator Beck is operating under the assumption that we, her constituents, are asleep at the wheel and that this bill will pass without anybody raising a fuss about it. Oceanport's Municipal Council was not consulted on the contents of the bill until after it was completed. If this was a Municipal Council action, we would be showing up in big numbers at Council Meetings to oppose it. State legislators don't have to worry about that because hardly anybody will take the trip to Trenton to complain and, even if they do, there is no guarantee that they would be given the opportunity to be heard. The only real way to be heard on this issue is to contact Senator Jennifer Beck's office. Her Senate phone number is 732-933-1591. Take a few moments, place a call and let her know how you feel about the bill. You can also send an e-mail to her (and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande and Assemblyman Declan J. O'Scanlon) by visiting her Senate website at:

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=303

Click on "contact your legislators", check all three names, click on "Select Your Representatives" and then fill out the e-mail form. In the e-mail subject box you should type "Senate Bill No. 10". If she doesn't hear from us, then we only have ourselves to blame.

Thanks for indulging my rant.

Jay Coffey

10 Things That I Hate About Senate Bill No. 10 (A/K/A: The NJ Economic Development Authority's Lifetime Employment Act of 2009)

1. Our Senator, Jennifer Beck, is co-sponsoring a bill she only saw for the first time a week before it was introduced and co-sponsor is Union County Senator Ray Lesniak.

2. It creates another NEW authority (the "Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority" or "MERA") to oversee the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth.

3. The host communities have no real say in the development of the Fort. MERA has nine voting members, only three of whom are from Oceanport, Eatontown and Tinton Falls. Five voting members are State appointees. The ninth voting member is from the County.

4. It creates a NEW office within the N.J. Economic Development Authority with which to staff MERA.

5. MERA must pay for the costs associated with the NEW office staff from the NJ Economic Development Authority

6. It authorizes MERA to enter into an agreement with the N.J. Economic Development Authority which will make the latter the "master developer" of the Fort Monmouth property. The NJ Economic Development Authority has absolutely NO experience as a master developer of this type of project.

7. The legislation contemplates, promotes and/or creates debt creation vehicles and financing schemes such as the Fort Monmouth Special Improvement District, the Fort Monmouth Transportation Planning District, infrastructure districts and franchise assessments.

8. Municipal site plan approval and municipal subdivision approval shall not be required for any project undertaken by the NEW authority or the EDA.

9. The plan and the development and design guidelines and land use regulations adopted by the authority shall supersede the master plans, the zoning and land use ordinances and regulations, and the zoning maps of the host municipalities.

10. This is a lame duck bill that is being pushed through the legislature in an expedited fashion before the new Governor takes office. There can be no good reason (for the host communities) why this bill is on such a fast track.

BONUS REASON: The Legislature of the State of New Jersey (the people who brought us EnCap, Xanadu, and the New Jersey School Construction Corp. fiascos) has a multi-billion dollar budget gap and we are being asked to entrust the management of our financial future to the very same people who can't even manage their own fiscal affairs. The State will control the development and we will be left with the fallout.

As an unrelated note from me - I find it worth noting that the NJ State Senator in question, Jennifer Beck, is the same Jennifer Beck who was too busy to vote against the One-Gun-A-Month legislation that was passed earlier this year.

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