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Wetlands a Potential Challenge to Vacant Lot Sales

Engineer Vincent J. DeNave he would not recommend development on any lots certified as wetlands by experts.

Vincent J. DeNave worked with Elizabeth Gill, one of Chatham Borough's high school interns, to create inventory of six vacant lots which could potentially be developed for possible sale.

DeNave and Gill presented the six properties, along with their assessed values, square footage, photographs and further details to the Chatham Borough Council Monday.

Gill and DeNave used tax maps and tax-assessed values from 2011 to estimate that together, the six properties could net about $2.2 million. The lots in question are:

  • 184 Center St., which is assessed at $343,400
  • 83 Chatham St. (corner of Lafayette Avenue), which is assessed at $424,400
  • 57 Watchung Ave. (corner of Girard Avenue), which is assessed at $300,200;
  • 72 N. Hillside Ave. (corner of Weston Avenue), which is assessed at $375,800;
  • 62 Yale St. (dead-end street), which is assessed at $331,800;
  • and a corner lot at 39 Front St./16 Walnut St., which is assessed at $508,800. 

If they can be sold, Council President James Lonergan said each property could add between $12,000 and $13,000 to the municipal tax revenue.

To prepare for selling the six properties, "the first thing is to sit down and go through these lots in more detail with the planner," DeNave said.

Some of the properties including 184 Center St., 62 Yale St. and 72 N. Hillside Ave., would have to be inspected by a wetlands expert. The land is damp but may not technically qualify as wetlands. If they did, DeNave said the state Department of Environmental Protection would have to get involved.

Ed DiFiglia pointed out that two of the lots in question, 62 Yale St. and 184 Center St., are currently on a priority list for Open Space plan and are marked for preservation.

Michael Dean asked about the DEP involvement and the sewer line through the Walnut Street properly.

"What I'd like to do is to have a wetlands expert go out there and do an evaluation," to determine if they are true wetlands or not. DeNave said, but "if it has to go to the DEP, I'd want to call it off."

Lonergan asked if it was "clear as day" that the properties were wetlands. DeNave said an expert would need to look at the vegetations, soil types and standing waters, then do borings, to make such a determination.

"Then [they'd] mark a line out there, where they found the wetlands," DeNave said. "Certain wetlands have buffers associated with them," which could require fill permits or other additional steps before any construction could begin.

Those two aspects of the work could be completed as early as the next meeting of the Chatham Borough Council, DeNave said. It will take longer to conduct a survey of surrounding properties, since some residents could use vacant properties as extensions of their own for purposes such as .

All together, DeNave said it could take as long as two months before the properties will be ready to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment, longer to "really get it prepared for sale." Other vacant lots, he said, could be added to the inventory in the future.

If the borough decides to move forward on selling the properties, an appraiser would come in to assess the values. Attorney James Lott said the borough would then set a minimum bid price, and the properties would be advertised in the paper.

Mayor Bruce Harris said "I think it's worthwhile pursuing this, at least doing this evaluation."

Richard E. Templin July 13, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Hopefully, they don't take the lesson from the Township where they just rezone the properties to farmland. If you look at this wetlands map on the Chatham Township website (http://www.chathamtownship.org/CTEC/stream_wetlands.pdf) and compare it to the addresses of the newly eligible Commercial Farms from here (http://chatham.patch.com/articles/market-garden-ordinance-up-for-final-adoption#pdf-9726094), you will notice all the properties are in protected wetlands. Just to warn our fellow Borough citizens, they will then bring out all the über- environmentalists to tell how environmentally friendly farming is and that those wetlands aren't really wetlands (http://chatham.patch.com/articles/no-water-quality-threat-from-green-village-farming-scientist-says). To make it more absurd, they will tell you that you even irrigate the properties with polluted water from the local sewage treatment plant (http://chatham.patch.com/articles/while-bacteria-exists-experts-say-irrigation-is-ok). But don't worry it will be run by completely unregulated businesses that claim to be environmentally friendly like this example (http://www.greenpathlandcare.com/). Good luck! Hopefully your politicians are more honest than ours! http://www.savegreenvillage.com/
Sir July 13, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Throw the envornmentalist out along with the Commynuty Organizer.
Dave 2 July 13, 2012 at 11:41 AM
What property was rezoned as farmland?? I fail to see any documentation stating that property is now "farmland" in Chatham Township as a result of the Market Garden Ordinance. I really look forward to your run for election for Chatham Township Committee. Your posts that are misleading and full of lies will coming in handy. Not to mention your hack, one sided web site.
Dave 2 July 13, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Mr. Templin - I know the facts very well and what you are doing and saying is wrong. I am only here to challenge your every misleading statement, lie and accusation. You seem to think you can drum up an audience by misleading and scaring the residents of Chatham by posting your hack web site and post one sided false statements. The truth is, people are not following this story or these posts because it is so ridicules (notice it is only you and I posting back and forth). I am extremely knowledgeable of my rights and the laws of this great Country. Please don’t try and scare me with your childish "the police are watching.." This response is a typical reaction from you when proven wrong. You keep posting lies, misleading statements, false accusations and I will keep making you look like a fool, its that simple.

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