HAMILTON IS GETTING MORE AGGRESSIVE
REVITALIZING VACANT PROPERTIES WITH PRIVATE FIRM
“Even though we have seen a considerable decrease in the number of vacant properties, we still wanted to increase our concentration on the properties that remain unoccupied,” explains Mayor Kelly Yaede. “We are confident that our recent partnership with a private firm specializing in this area, along with significant land use changes designed to make it easier to fill vacant sites, will help us build further upon the many revitalization projects taking place across our community.”
Mayor Kelly Yaede and Hamilton Township already are aggressive when it came to quality of life issues, especially the revitalization of vacant properties. Through the Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP), which Mayor Yaede has made a priority, Township officials seek to proactively identify and work cooperatively with residents to address safety and quality of life issues. Vacant properties, many of which are owned by banks and other financial institutions, typically exhibit these types of violations.
Teaming Up to Rehabilitate Vacant Properties Owned by Financial Institutions
Recently, Hamilton teamed up with Borgers, Saunders, Taylor & Associates, LLC (BSTA), a firm that has yielded positive results in other New Jersey towns. The company will work along with Township officials and use the town’s registry of abandoned properties to identify and contact parties responsible for vacant sites, which typically are banking or financial institutions.
Empowered by State and local laws, BSTA will enforce maintenance requirements and other obligations, such as registration and vacant property maintenance fees.
Such efforts help motivate owners and creditors to rehabilitate properties that have languished, in addition to eliminating blight.
Because of its commission based approach, the company only receives compensation based upon their successful recouping of fees, of which 70 percent becomes a local revenue for the Municipal Government.
BSTA has been successful in similar efforts in other NJ towns.
Between 2015 and 2017, the company helped East Orange implement a Vacant & Abandoned Property program, which is credited for bringing in $4 million in fees and fines, along with over $750 million in new real estate investments.
Last year in Burlington City, BSTA was given two properties with significant violations, which led to a combined total of $195,000 in paid fines, a bank paying for an $85,000 demolition effort for one property, as well as the abatement of violations at the other property.
Land Use Change to Revitalize Mixed Use Properties
Along Lalor Street, where Hamilton boarders the City of Trenton, years ago several corner mixed-use properties were common – where the first floor had a commercial use and the second floor was a residential unit.
But in recent times, these mixed used sites have languished. That is why Mayor Yaede proposed a land use change earlier this year that now permits one residential unit on the first floor of such sites.
“We would rather see these sites residentially occupied than vacant and deteriorating,” says Mayor Yaede.
Providing More Options in Industrial and Manufacturing Zones
Providing more options for businesses in industrial and manufacturing zones continues to be an important tool in filling vacant sites and keeping them filled.
A change approved earlier in the year allows for contractor’s storage to be a permitted use in these zones, provided that the stored items stay in an enclosed building.
“We identified this additional use as something that would assist in attracting and keeping businesses in these zones, while remaining within the character of these types of commercial zones,” says Marty Flynn, Director of Economic Development.