By PETE WALTON
The Neptune City Borough Council has hired a special counsel to help it acquire property which has been off the tax rolls for more than two and a half decades.
Keith Bonchi of the Atlantic County-based GMS law firm will assist the borough as it moves to redevelop the former East Coast Ice site at 87 Rosewood Place.
“For many years it has been a very hazardous building,” said Mayor Robert J. Brown at the council’s meeting earlier this week.
He said a letter is expected shortly from the state Department of Environmental Protection which will clear the way for the next steps to be taken toward the goal of restoring a “viable ratable” to the town.
Brown said the site will be developed by a “private-public partnership.” He said the property is currently zoned for industrial and commercial uses. The mayor said he did not think the site would be used for single-family homes.
“Now that the DEP letter is coming, we are moving ahead,” said Borough Attorney Mark R. Aikins. “No one bought tax liens (on the property) since they would also be buying the contamination.”
According to Brown, he is the third mayor who has worked to move the project forward. In response to questions from residents, the mayor said that neither the borough nor the property owners have paid for tests and remedial work at the site, which has been funded by state grants.
Brown said the back taxes on the site total more than $1.2 million, an amount he does not expect to collect from the owners.
“I’m sure we won’t hear from them,” the mayor said.
Bonchi is the general counsel to the Tax Collectors & Treasurers Association of New Jersey and associate counsel for the New Jersey League of Municipalities since 2015. He is the primary author of the state Superior Court handbook on tax sale foreclosures and a member of the court’s ad hoc committee on foreclosures. He is or has been special counsel for Newark, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Trenton, East Orange, Brick and other municipalities in New Jersey.
Brown said Bonchi’s compensation will be determined through negotiation with the borough.
Also at its meeting, the council approved its annual temporary curfew on Oct. 30 and 31 between the hours of 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.
During those times, persons under the age of 17 are not permitted on borough streets without the company of an adult.
The wearing of masks by persons of all ages is prohibited during those times, according to the resolution passed by the council by a 6-0 vote.
Neptune City’s annual Trunk or Treat event will take place on Sat., Oct. 28 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Community Center, 117 Third Ave. Participants decorate their car trunks or truck beds with Halloween themes and youngsters can trick or treat at the vehicles. Pre-registration is not required but those wishing to take part are asked to arrive by 11:30 a.m. Call 732-776-7224 Ext. 41 for further information.