Peter Madden, Council President
861 Asbury Ave.
Ocean City, NJ 08226
Dear Councilman Madden:
Thank you for reaching out to Fairness In Taxes in an effort to search for the best way forward after our successful petition drive for a public referendum on the purchase of the Klause property.
We agree that the city’s acquisition of this property presents a unique opportunity for future public benefits. Whether those benefits will apply to public safety, environmental or recreational is yet undetermined. One of the things we learned from our petition drive was, in addition to the price, the lack of a definite plan was a major contributing factor to its unpopularity. Another pubic misconception that needs to be made clear is exactly what land is included. Many in the public assumed that the land under contract included more area than it actually did.
Since FIT is not a party to this transaction, it would not be appropriate for us to enter into negotiations with any seller. Our sole interest is that the taxpayers’ purchase be based on todays fair market value, not tomorrow’s. We are confident the City is capable of doing this, if it has the will. Although this may feel counterintuitive to some, FIT is on the City’s team. Neither of us should be on the seller’s team.
To that end, we recommend the following:
- The City either
- Reenter or begin negotiations with the owners of all four properties on the block; or
- Begin eminent domain proceedings on all four properties on the block.
- Either of these courses of actions should be preceded by fresh appraisals. We understand that different methodologies exist for assessing fair market value. However, the methodology of the appraisals should not be dictated by the seller. It should be transparent and address offsets for approval, demolition, or interest carrying costs and bulk value discounts. Comparable sales and adjustments thereto should be thoroughly explained and reasonably justified.
- Solicit input from the public through methods the city has used before such as public meetings, questionnaires, and social media surveys.
- Develop options for public uses; choose one, sell it to the public, and present it to Council for a vote.
We do agree with one thing Mr. Klause said at the City Council meeting: This is time for the City to expand its vision, it’s not the time for “playing pepper.”
Very truly yours,
David Hayes, President of Fairness In Taxes
Cc: Mayor Jay Gillian; Councilpersons Karen Bergman, Keith Hartzell, Michael DeVlieger, Antwan McClellan, Tony Wilson, Bobby Barr