CAPE MAY — The city will host host a forum Monday to discuss redevelopment in the city and highlight state laws the city can use to renovate vacant and underdeveloped properties.
A letter signed by Mayor Clarence “Chuck” Lear on Aug. 2 encourages city residents and visitors to attend the forum 7 p.m. at Cape May Convention Hall to learn and discuss “how to use the law for Cape May’s continued growth and development.”
“We now have the opportunity to do redevelopment correctly,” Lear said. “We can take that opportunity to understand redevelopment — what it is, where it may apply, how it can be used, who might be involved and so on.”
The forum will be presented by Jim Maley, a redevelopment attorney with Maley Givens Law Firm. Maley has more than 30 years of experience and will do a presentation and answer questions on how the use of redevelopment laws has helped communities improve their neighborhoods, according to a statement from the city. Maley also has served as mayor of Collingswood for more than 20 years.
The forum comes in response to a January City Council meeting where residents turned out in droves to lambaste a report by board Engineer Craig Hurless that described the block between Lafayette and Washington streets, running from Ocean to Franklin streets, in dire terms and as in need of redevelopment, according to previous news reports.
The council wanted to legally designate the block as an area in need of redevelopment but declined to do so after many angry public comments.
Lear called the decision a missed opportunity and wrote an open letter to residents saying city officials, including himself, needed to better explain what designating an area for redevelopment means.
This forum is intended to better explain the legal process and create opportunities to revitalize part of the city.
“Let me note … the meeting is not about a specific plan or design or developer. It is about the meaning and scope of the redevelopment law and its application,” Lear said in the letter. “The August 13 meeting is not about rumors, past or present, no matter how outlandish or intriguing they may be. It is about options available to reclaim and revitalize an area of Cape May in our city’s best interests and to the benefit of all of us who value this special place.”