Today's column provides you with three major stories affecting Atlantic City. Each of them is deserving of a full column because all three subjects have been on the minds of many of the residents and visitors of Atlantic City. However, they all occurred at the same time, and it is my obligation to share my knowledge with you.
Good things are happening in Atlantic City, and these three stories certainly prove that. The major portion of the column comes from a state law and a city ordinance. The information came from the offices of the Atlantic City Special Improvement District.
New Jersey has an Abandoned Property Rehabilitation Act. Six months ago, Atlantic City approved an ordinance implementing the state law that allows municipalities to take possession of a property even in the absence of tax delinquency on the basis of a finding by a public officer that the property is in need of rehabilitation. The public officer must also prove the property owner has not taken action to rehabilitate the property in six months.
The act applies to all properties - residential and commercial - and may be enacted throughout the entire municipality. The act is a "halfway provision" for a municipality, serving as a real "stick" in cases where property owners' maintenance and leasing responsibilities counter the well-being of the municipality. It allows the property owner to offer his or her own plan for rehabilitation, which must include a bond for 125 percent of the cost of that plan, as proof that the owner can and will perform the rehabilitation.
If the owner does not propose an acceptable plan with a bond, the municipality can obtain a court order allowing the municipality to: take possession and control of the property; create a plan for rehabilitation; make the repairs/renovations necessary for rehabilitation; recover costs and expenses for the rehabilitation from the owner; or recover costs and expenses for the rehabilitation from the sale of the property. The court will not order this if the owner applies for reinstatement of ownership.
The great news for communities such as Atlantic City is that the act does not apply solely to properties abandoned for six months but also applies to "nuisance" properties, the criteria for which includes "the dilapidated appearance or other condition of the property and materially affects the welfare, including the economic welfare, of the residents in the area in close proximity to the property, and the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to remedy conditions"
Atlantic City has conducted 23 hearings of buildings that come under Ordinance 70 of 2010 to date. As a result of the hearings, nine of the properties are scheduled to be demolished after April 26, the six-month deadline. Several of the property owners have agreed to secure the building in accordance with the city code and obtain a construction permit for the renovation to occupy the building on or before April 26. Hearings on six additional properties are being scheduled and an order for each will be issued shortly thereafter.
This program comes under the direction of Anthony Cox, Atlantic City's director of licensing and inspection. This department has done an admirable job of applying this ordinance to problem buildings within the city. Addresses of the buildings involved in this program, to date, may be obtained at the city's licensing and inspection department.
Good news for the beach
The South Jersey Beach Replenishment Program is currently in Avalon. It is anticipated that it will be moving up to Atlantic City in May. Originally the program was to begin at New Hampshire avenue and fill in the beach up to North Carolina Avenue.
There is good news as the program came in under bid. That will allow for the replenishment program to go all the way to Boardwalk Hall. This will be of great assistance to the Atlantic City Air Show - at Florida Avenue - where the beach is about 40 feet wide. There was concern about having a beach wide enough for the number of spectators wanting to watch the show, particularly because there also needs to be sufficient room for the paratroopers to land on the beach and not in the water.
There also are sufficient funds to rebuild the States Avenue ramp that was demolished in a severe storm. In addition, they will be able to repair the outfall pipes at California, Georgia and North Carolina avenues.
With the larger beach comes the necessity of having additional equipment to clean the beach. Previously, Atlantic City had been working with only two beach cleaners. However, a new beach cleaner was purchased and there are now three to clean the entire beachfront on a daily basis.
SID cleanup plan
Atlantic City's Special Improvement District has been folded into the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. They will have the responsibility of cleaning up the entire Boardwalk, from Jackson Avenue to Gardner's Basin, as well as the Southeast Inlet.
The SID's program calls for daily sweeping or vacuuming of streets and sidewalks between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Ambassadors will be walking, bicycling or traveling in golf carts during the winter months, between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.; cleaning and cutting all vacant lots; daily cleaning of the boardwalk from 2 to 10 p.m.; removing weeds from property line to the gutter; maintaining flower boxes at each beach entrance; removing graffiti and painting over graffiti to match the building color within 48 hours of tagging; steam cleaning and gum removal of sidewalks; monthly power washing of sidewalks; environmental services for Boardwalk bathrooms 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. from April through September.
During the initial 30-day period, the SID's emphasis will be on bringing the Southeast Inlet up to some minimum standards. They will include: removing sand, dirt and debris from streets, sidewalks, beaches and under the Boardwalk; weed removal along streets and sidewalks; removal of large objects from empty lots, grading the lots and cutting or spraying to eliminate weeds; graffiti removal or painting along Boardwalk, homes, streets and other public spaces; installation of benches on Boardwalk every 60 feet and trash receptacles at each street and; installation of attractive planters on Boardwalk at beach entrances and new signage for Boardwalk and beach; identifying code violations and reporting to the city of Atlantic City.
The SID urges residents to feel free to contact them individually to discuss any concerns, suggestions on improving the neighborhood, or to answer any questions they may have. The staff will be happy to meet with any community groups, if they so desire a more detailed presentation of what to look for in cleaning up the areas that will be under the jurisdiction of the SID.
Pinky's Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky's Corner radio show airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. His TV show, "WMGM Presents Pinky," airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC TV40. E-mail Pinky at: firstname.lastname@example.org.