Progress Achieved in Fight Against the Blight at Montgomery's Route 518-206 Intersection
By Lori Savron for The Montgomery News | Posted January 26, 2023
Progress continues at the intersection of routes 518 and 206. In mid-January, demolition crews began dismantling 1026 Route 518, the former Gamma Tech property.
Demolition crew at 1026 Route 518 in Montgomery Township last week. Photo by Richard D. Smith.
On the west side of the intersection, the township has pressed the property owners of two other abandoned buildings to move forward with demolition.
Larry Thul, the owner of the shuttered Auto Parts store located at 990 Route 518, has hired a contractor to clean-up the property and prepare the necessary permits to demolish the building.
The former Texaco station at 1276 Route 206, next to Tiger’s Tale, has been given notice that fines will be issued for failure to comply with local laws on property maintenance and vacant property registration.
The property owner previously indicated the building would be demolished upon development of a Dunkin Donuts with a drive-thru. The proposal failed. It did not conform with local zoning and was denied a d(3) conditional use variance by the Montgomery Township Zoning Board on January 25, 2022.
The owner must still comply with the township’s vacant property registration ordinance, health codes regulating nuisances, and the construction code regulating unsafe structures.
The owner has filed a lawsuit with Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division (Somerset County) and the township is waiting for the trial date to be set.
This is the second such lawsuit filed with respect to this application. The first court challenge by this property owner came after the Zoning Board approved the application in 2015 but banned left turns from the site onto Route 518. That case was on hold until the NJ Department of Transportation completed its review of the application.
Four years later in August 2020, the DOT agreed with the board’s left turn prohibition and had additional concerns about cars exiting the site onto Route 206, requiring changes to the site plan.
In 2021, the developer submitted a new plan. After four public hearings with considerable public comment and expert testimony, the Zoning Board unanimously denied the application.
Further west, 982 Route 518 sold [for $1.2 million on September 28 according to Zillow]. In December, an application was submitted for a day care center and medical office building — both are permitted uses in the commercial zone. The application is pending the submission of additional information.
The Zoning Board will soon have a public hearing on a proposed 135-foot tall Verizon cell tower in the Bridgepoint section of the township. The tower is proposed within an unrestricted area of the preserved Johnson Farm, and within the Bridgepoint State and National Historic District. For more information, you can watch the recorded meeting on the township website, or view the application “Verizon Cell Tower – Sector Site NJ-0418” on the “Projects” page.
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Finally, during the November 8 election, Montgomery voters approved the Board of Education referendum for full-day kindergarten. As a result, the Montgomery Township Tax Collector is mailing out a supplemental school tax bill for the 1st and 2nd quarter for capital improvements and operational expenses for full-day kindergarten.
For information regarding the use of these funds, please contact the School District Superintendent, Mary E. McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Municipal governments follow state rules for assessing property, collecting property taxes and then distributing the funds to the public school board, municipal and county governments and other dedicated purposes.
The largest portion of municipal taxes is for the school system. In Montgomery, the school district will receive 68 percent of the 2023 tax bill, followed by the municipal government (13 percent), Somerset County (12 percent), Fire Districts (3 percent), County Library System (2 percent), and the dedicated Open Space Trusts of the municipality (1 percent) and the county (1 percent). ■
Lori Savron is the Montgomery Township Administrator.