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Lesniak Bill Would Create Authority To Revitalize Ft. Monmouth

TRENTON � A bill sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) that would create thousands of jobs for area residents and spur economic development for the entire region and state by establishing a new authority to revitalize Fort Monmouth was approved 5-0 yesterday by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

The bill (S10) would create a Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority to implement the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Plan. It would abolish the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Planning Authority and transfer all of its functions, powers, and duties to the newly created authority, which would exist in, but not of, the Department of the Treasury.

�The bill would designate the authority as the �local redevelopment authority� for Fort Monmouth,� Sen. Lesniak said. �It would permit the authority to enter into agreements with the Federal government, State departments, agencies or authorities, Monmouth County, the constituent municipalities, or private parties.�

The membership of the authority would consist of 13 members, of which nine are voting members.

�This bill would allow the new authority to approve most matters with a simple majority vote,� Sen. Lesniak said. �However, a �super-majority� of seven votes would be required on other matters, including entering into a master redevelopment agreement with the state Economic Development Authority, any action to amend the plan or to acquire easements or rights of way.�

A super-majority vote would also be required to adopt or revise land use regulations adopted by the authority, and consent to the designation of any portion of the project area as an area in need of redevelopment or in need of rehabilitation.

The bill would require that the host municipalities obtain the consent of the authority before designating any portion of the project area as in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation.

The bill would establish a Monmouth Economic Revitalization Office in the EDA and consisting of EDA staff to serve the authority and assist in the implementation of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Plan. The administrative costs of the office would be paid for by the authority.

The bill would require the authority to prepare a business plan for all issues related to the closure, conversion, revitalization and future use of Fort Monmouth, including such matters as the economic impact of the project, job creation, cash flow, investment and financing strategy.

It would provide that all redevelopment within the project area would be implemented under a redevelopment agreement between the authority or the redeveloper, or the authority and the EDA as master redeveloper, or between the EDA as master redeveloper and the redeveloper.

The bill authorizes the establishment of three special purpose districts: a special improvement district, a transportation planning district, and infrastructure district(s). These districts would allow the authority to finance redevelopment and infrastructure improvements through assessments, fees, and dedicated taxes.

The bill would permit the authority to designate an area within the project area as a special improvement district. Within this district a special assessment on property could be imposed to finance improvements that would promote the economic and general welfare of the area.

The bill would permit the authority to designate the entire project area as a Transportation Planning District. Within the district the authority would be permitted to assess and collect development fees on developments within the district. The fees would be used to fund transportation projects and allowable administrative costs within the district.

Lastly, the bill authorizes the authority to create an infrastructure district or districts. Within an infrastructure district, the authority would be permitted to exempt the sales and use tax up to 50 percent.

The Fort Monmouth military post was selected for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005, and is scheduled to be shut down by 2011.

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