[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Fort Lee 4-10-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-11. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 356A, Special Improvement Districts, Art. I, Business Improvement District, adopted 11-14-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-20.
The purposes of this chapter are to:
Foster the District's economic development, encourage the District's revitalization and strengthen the District's economic and commercial contributions to residents and property owners of the Borough of Fort Lee (also referred to as the "Borough").
Allow all those who live, work or invest in the District to contribute to the improvement of the District.
Foster the building of a nonpartisan private/public partnership to implement the improvement of the Fort Lee Special Improvement District.
Foster and create self-help programs to improve the local business climate.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- DISTRICT MANAGEMENT CORPORATION (also referred to as "DMC")
- The Fort Lee District Management Corporation, Inc., an entity incorporated pursuant to Title 15A of the New Jersey Statutes and designated by this chapter to receive funds collected by a special improvement assessment within the special improvement district, as authorized by this chapter and any amendatory ordinances.
- SPECIAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT (also referred to as "DISTRICT" or "SID")
- That area within the Borough of Fort Lee described by block and lot numbers and street addresses as set forth in Schedule A and designated by this chapter as an area in which a special assessment on property within the District shall be imposed for the purpose of promoting the economic and general welfare of the District and the Borough of Fort Lee in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:56-65 et seq.
The Mayor and Council finds and declares that:
The Fort Lee Central Business District of the Borough of Fort Lee has special needs and requires special services that can best be achieved through a private/public partnership implemented by a Special Improvement District (SID) and a District Management Corporation (DMC).
The creation of a special improvement district and designation of a district management corporation will promote economic growth and implement, foster and encourage commercial development business vitality, expansion and self-help, and improve the business climate and otherwise be in the best interest of the property owners in the District and in the Borough of Fort Lee.
A district management corporation will provide the administrative, programming and other services to benefit the businesses, employees, residents and consumers in the special improvement district and that the district management corporation would assist the Borough of Fort Lee in promoting economic growth, employment and development.
A special assessment shall be imposed and collected by the Borough with the regular property tax payment or payment in lieu of taxes or otherwise, and that all of these payments shall be transferred to the district management corporation to effectuate the purposes of this chapter and any amendatory ordinances statutes and to exercise the powers given to it by this chapter.
It is in the best interests of the Borough of Fort Lee and the public to create a special improvement district and to designate a district management corporation; except that no district management corporation shall be designated to receive any funds or to exercise any powers pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:56-83 et seq., and any amendatory or supplementary statutes, unless the board of directors of that corporation shall include the Mayor of the Borough of Fort Lee or a member of the Borough Council designated by the Mayor.
There is hereby created and designated within the Borough of Fort Lee a special improvement district to be known as the "Fort Lee Special Improvement District" ("District") consisting of properties designated and listed by tax lot and block number and street addresses on Schedule A attached hereto. The District shall be subject to special assessments on all affected property within the District, which assessment shall be imposed by the Borough for the purposes of promoting the economic and general welfare of the District and the Borough of Fort Lee.
All properties within the special improvement district, except those set forth in Subsection C of this section, are deemed included in the assessing provisions of this chapter and are subject to assessment for special improvement district purposes.
The following properties are excluded from the assessing provisions of this chapter and are exempt from any assessment for special improvement district purposes:
Properties maintained solely for residential use and occupied by the owner or the owner's family; and
Properties owned by a nonprofit entity and exempt from real property taxes under Title 54, Chapter 4, of the Revised Statutes; except those properties granted exemption or abatement from taxation under the Urban Enterprise Zones Act (P.L. 1983, c. 303), as provided in N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.139 to 54:4-3.149, the Environmental Opportunity Zone Act (L. 1995, c. 413), codified at N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.150 et seq., the Long Term Tax Exemption Law (L. 1991, c. 431), codified at N.J.S.A. 40A:20-1 et seq., the Five-Year Exemption and Abatement Law, codified at N.J.S.A. 40A:21-1 et seq., or any similar statute granting tax exemption or abatement for a limited duration as incentive to develop, improve, rebuild, renovate, alter, convert, or rehabilitate any property.
Nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting a negotiated fee or assessment or in-kind contribution associated with any property.
It is hereby determined that the operation and maintenance of the District may involve annual costs relating to services peculiar to the District that are distinguished from operation and maintenance services normally provided by the Borough of Fort Lee outside the District. Pursuant to this chapter and N.J.S.A. 40:56-80 et seq., those annual costs shall be assessed to the benefited properties or businesses. The properties to be assessed to provide for the payment of such annual costs are described in § 356A-4 hereof.
Preparation of the assessment roll; objections.
Each year, when the Mayor and Council shall have acted on the estimated costs and/or on the budget of the District, the Tax Assessor shall prepare an assessment roll setting forth separately the amounts to be specially assessed against the benefited and assessable properties in the District as a percentage of assessed value. Descriptions of such properties and the name of the then current owners of such properties, so far as names are available, shall be included in each annual assessment roll. The assessment roll, when so prepared, shall be filed in the Office of the Borough of Fort Lee Municipal Clerk and be there available for inspection.
The owner of any property subject to assessment under this chapter shall have the right to file objection in writing with the Mayor and Council within 20 days following the filing of the assessment roll in the office of the Municipal Clerk. Such objection may request a hearing on the objection before a hearing officer to be designated by the Mayor and Council, or may waive the right to a hearing. Any such hearing shall be sound recorded.
The Mayor and Council shall annually meet to consider objections to the amounts of such special assessments at least 10 days after a notice of the hearing has been published once in the official newspaper and mailed to the named owners of all tracts, parcels and lots of property to be assessed. The notice shall set forth the time and place of the meeting, and set forth the purpose of such meeting, but may refer to the assessment roll for further particulars. During the meeting, the Mayor and Council shall consider any objections duly filed in accordance with above, together with the record of the proceeding before the hearing officer, and any argument or briefs based thereon.
When the Mayor and Council shall have approved the amounts of the special assessments set forth in the assessment roll, or as may be changed by the Mayor and Council, the Borough of Fort Lee Clerk shall forthwith certify a copy of the assessment roll with such changes to the roll to the County Board of Taxation.
The nonprofit corporation, the Fort Lee District Improvement Corporation, Inc., an entity incorporated pursuant to N.J.S.A. 15A:1-1 et seq., is hereby designated as the district management corporation for the District and designated by this chapter to receive funds collected by a special improvement assessment within the special improvement district. This management corporation, in addition to acting as an advisory board to the Mayor and Council, shall have all powers necessary and requisite to effectuate the purpose of this chapter and the District, subject to annual approval by the Mayor and Council of the DMC's budget, including, but not limited to:
Adopt bylaws for the regulation of its affairs and conduct of its business and to prescribe rules, regulations and policies in connection with the performance of its function and duties;
Employ such persons as may be required, and to fix and pay their compensation from funds available to the district management corporation;
Apply for, accept, administer and comply with the requirements respecting an appropriation of funds or a gift, grant or donation of property or money;
Make and execute agreements which may be necessary or convenient to the exercise of the powers and functions of the corporation, including contracts with any person, firm, corporation, governmental agency or other entity;
Administer and manage its own funds and accounts and pay its obligations;
Borrow money from private lenders for periods subject to statutory limits established by the State of New Jersey and from governmental entities for that or longer periods;
Fund the improvement of the exterior appearance of properties in the District through grants or loans;
Fund the rehabilitation of properties in the District;
Accept, purchase, rehabilitate, sell, lease or manage property in the District;
Enforce the conditions of any loan, grant, sale or lease made by the district management corporation;
Provide security, sanitation and other services to the District, supplemental to those provided normally by the municipality;
Undertake improvements designed to increase the safety or attractiveness of the District to businesses which may wish to locate there or to visitors to the District, including, but not limited to, litter cleanup and control, landscaping, parking areas and facilities, recreational and rest areas and facilities, pursuant to pertinent regulations of the Borough;
Publicize the District and the businesses included within the District boundaries;
Recruit new businesses to fill vacancies in, and to balance the business mix of, the District;
Organize special events in the District;
Provide special parking arrangements for the District;
Provide temporary decorative lighting in the District;
Review all applications, plans, specifications, etc., for the proposed construction or alteration of any and all exterior improvements to buildings and facades, including temporary and permanent signs and awnings, within the special improvement district for the purpose of providing advice and recommendations to those wishing to improve their properties consistent with the recommendations offered by the DMC. Recommendations made under this section shall be in writing and will be forwarded to the appropriate approving authority, namely the Borough of Fort Lee Construction Code Official, Borough of Fort Lee Planning Board or the Borough of Fort Lee Board of Adjustment. Recommendations offered shall be developed within the time frames within which the Construction Official, the Planning Board and Zoning Board must take appropriate actions.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:56-68, in order to receive any funds or exercise any of the powers granted herein, the Board of Trustees of the Fort Lee District Improvement Corporation, Inc., shall include the Mayor of the Borough of Fort Lee or a member of the Borough Council designated by the Mayor.
Notwithstanding the creation of a special improvement district, the Borough of Fort Lee expressly retains all its powers and authority over the area designated as being within the special improvement district.
Nothing contained herein shall accomplish or be interpreted or construed to be the creation or a vacation, in whole or in part, of any municipal street or right-of-way or part thereof, or to amend any zoning ordinance requirement or to limit any other rule or law of general application.
The district management corporation shall not make or enter into any contracts for the improvement of any publicly owned or operated facility or property within the special improvement district, unless the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Fort Lee delegates to the district management corporation, by separate ordinance, the contracting of work to be done on any street or streets or on any other municipal property within the special improvement district, and provided that the district management corporation, as the contracting unit, complies with the New Jersey Local Public Contracts Law, Public Law 1971, Chapter 198 (C. 40A:11-1 et seq.) and provided that the plans, specifications and bid requirements as applicable for the work contracted shall be approved by the municipal engineer and the Mayor and Council, by resolution, prior to initiation of any action for the awarding of a contract under the Local Public Contracts Law.
The district management corporation shall comply with all applicable ordinances or regulations of the Borough of Fort Lee and the County of Bergen, State of New Jersey and federal government.
No employee or contractor of the DMC shall be considered an employee or contractor of the Borough of Fort Lee, and the Borough of Fort Lee shall not be or become a co-employer or co-contractor of any DMC employee or contractor. All employees and contractors, as a condition of employment or contract, shall be required to execute a written acknowledgment and acceptance of this status.
The fiscal year of the DMC shall be the same as the Borough of Fort Lee.
The DMC shall submit to the Mayor and Council a detailed annual budget for each upcoming fiscal year no later than December 31 of the preceding year together with a report which explains how the budget contributes to the goals and objectives for the District.
The budget shall be introduced, approved, amended and adopted by the Mayor and Council in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:56-84.
Monies appropriated and collected for the annual costs of operating and maintaining the special improvement district shall be credited to a special account. The Mayor and Council may incur the annual costs of improving, operating and maintaining the special improvement district during a fiscal year, though not specifically provided for by line item or other category in an approved estimate for such fiscal year, if in its discretion it shall be deemed necessary to provide for such annual improvements or operation or maintenance prior to the succeeding fiscal year and so long as the total amount of the account approved for that year is not exceeded by that expenditure. Any balances to the credit of the account and remaining unexpended at the end of the fiscal year shall be maintained and applied towards the financial requirements of the improvement district for the succeeding year.
The Borough of Fort Lee shall not be obligated to pay over to the DMC any funds not received by the Borough of Fort Lee.
The district management corporation shall cause an annual audit of its books, accounts and financial transactions to be made and filed with the Mayor and Council and for that purpose shall employ a certified public accountant of New Jersey. The annual audit shall be completed and filed with the governing body within four months after the close of the fiscal year of the corporation, and a certified copy of the audit shall be filed with the Director of Community Affairs within five days of the filing of the audit with the Mayor and Council.
The district management corporation shall, within 30 days after the close of each fiscal year, make an annual report of its activities for the preceding fiscal year to the Mayor and Council and the Borough Clerk.
The Borough shall not be responsible for any debt or obligation of the DMC, and shall not pledge its full faith and credit thereto, except as it shall choose to do so in specific instances in accordance with all applicable laws.
Nothing contained herein shall prevent the Mayor and Council at any time, subsequent to the adoption of this chapter, from, by ordinance:
Abandoning the operation of the District, changing the extent of the District, supplementing or amending the description of the District to be specially assessed or taxed for annual costs of the District, changing or repealing any plan, rules, requisitions or limitations adopted for the operation of the District, as set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:56-75; or
Rescinding the designation, redesignating, or designating a new district management corporation to receive funds collected by a special improvement assessment within the District, and to exercise the powers granted to the district management corporation by this chapter and any amendatory ordinances.
If, for any reason, the entity designated as the district management corporation for the District and designated by this chapter to receive funds collected by a special improvement assessment and to exercise those powers granted to the district management corporation by this chapter and any amendatory ordinances shall cease to operate or shall lose its designation as the district management corporation, through action by the governing body or otherwise, any and all monies and property of the entity shall be transferred forthwith to the Borough of Fort Lee.