“There you go Again”

December 12, 2014 | No Comments
Posted by Steven J. Corodemus

More tinkering with the Ogden-Rooney process of reviewing conveyance of Green Acres lands.

 There you go again” was one of my favorite Ronald Reagan pearls. It may have been first uttered by the future 40th president at the 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter as the incumbent leveled a repeated attack on his challenger-Reagan.

 Well there go the reformists – again! Please recall that more than a year ago I wrote about a legislative proposal to radically change the Ogden-Rooney process regarding the conveyance of State lands acquired or develop with Greenacres funding. http://njenvironmentlaw.com/the-state-house-commissions-60th-anniversary-may-be-dampened-by-new-proposed-legislation/

The Ogden-Rooney process was named after my former legislative colleagues Maureen Ogden and John Rooney.  The reformists have been diligently at this project for three legislative sessions since 2010. That’s perseverance! 

On December 8, 2014, the New Jersey State Senate Environment Committee unanimously passed the latest and most onerous version of this legislation S570. There is no Assembly companion bill at this juncture. 

The current version and prior introductions of this legislation sought to slash the Ogden Rooney leasehold review threshold from 25 years to 5 years. It also seeks to impose a mystifying valuation proposal that will challenge the most astute appraisers.

 Further complicating matters, new amendments to the bill introduced at the recent committee meeting added additional hurdles to the process. These new hurdles make the proposal even more unwieldy. The amendments seek to confine transfers of title and leases for the limited purpose of public use only. Historically, it has been common occurrence for applicants before the State House Commission to seek accommodations for installation of upgraded utility infrastructure, relief for adjoining private property owners or for other innocuous purposes.   

Furthermore, the amendments would require applications for conveyances of lands greater than 20 acres to would obtain the unanimous vote of the full membership at the Statehouse Commission. The Statehouse Commission meets at irregular intervals and is often challenged to get a quorum let alone full membership attendance. Good luck! Not unlike other legislative commissions, partisan politics sneaks in and would make a unanimous vote quite a feat.  

For this and many other reasons perhaps the current legislative initiative should follow its predecessors’ past.

This bill and other proposed legislation are being tracked by the Environmental Law Department and the Government Affairs Department of this law firm for its clients, the business community and interested parties in the State of New Jersey.

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