TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph Coniglio which would exempt the owner of an underground storage tank from repaying a state grant for safety upgrades if the property is taken over by a municipality through condemnation or eminent domain, was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“The safety of New Jersey residents needs to always be a priority,” said Senator Coniglio, D-Bergen. “The Department of Environmental Protection established a grant program to help business owners afford the needed repairs and upgrades to their underground storage tanks in order to protect the health of residents . Currently the DEP gives hardship grants to owners of underground storage tanks for upgrades, but if the property is sold, the grant has to be repaid regardless of the circumstances.”
The bill S-240, would no longer obligate the business owner to repay the conditional hardship grant from the DEP. Currently, upon the sale of the facility, the grant was to be immediately paid in full.
“Some people would like to argue that real estate value can increase even in the case of condemnation or eminent domain, but there is no guarantee,” said Senator Coniglio. “It’s just wrong to make someone repay the grant if he was forced to give up his property.”
Senator Coniglio added that, ” When an owner chooses to sell his property, the law is right to require him to repay the grant, but it’s a question of fairness when a condemnation forces a owner to refund the grant money.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.