Atlantic County Shops For Lawyers To Fight PILOT, Mulls Injunction

Atlantic County is looking for a law firm to challenge a law that shrunk Atlantic City casinos’ tax payments and increased the property tax burden on homeowners and businesses. The county wants a law firm to “challenge the constitutionality of the Casino Property Tax Stabilization Act,” according to the request for proposals published on Thursday. The lawyers could be asked to seek an injunction “against the further implementation of the act.” Sealed bids are due on May 23 and any successful bidder would be awarded a 12-month contract. The law was agreed almost a year ago but did not come into effect until New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs declared Atlantic City in need of “stabilization” in November.

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More Camping, Fewer Port-A-Johns Coming Soon To Lake Lenape

The west side of Lake Lenape Park in the Pinelands of Atlantic County is about to get a major refit, with Atlantic County and the Atlantic County Improvement Authority coming together to build a bathhouse and extend the number of camping sites along the water’s edge. The nearly 2,000 acre park is in the pinelands, which means there are additional hurdles to build or develop the area. The only bathroom at the site is at the boathouse at the southern end to the park and visitors to the 18-site campground in the northern section of the park rely on port-a-potties. Still, the $17-a-night sites are in demand throughout the April-November season, and the county’s parks department has been looking to extend camping options for some time. In fact, a plan to extend sewer, water and electricity lines out to the campsite area in the north of the park was part of plans formed two decades ago, said Glen Mawby, director of facilities management for the county.

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Design Co Seeks More Money For Stockton Aviation Park

The infrastructure company that was awarded a contract to design the first building at the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park already wants to be paid more. Infrastructure company AECOM was last month granted an additional $41,234.00 for an amended contract worth $738,390.00, according to the minutes of the Atlantic County Improvement Authority’s August meeting. The extra money is needed because when AECOM submitted its original bid, the scope of the project was not yet finalized, according to the minutes. “Therefore, certain assumptions were made, and while some of these assumptions were correct, some were inaccurate,” the minutes state. Among the changes are an allowance to design a “Thunder Room” (a kind of top-notch conference room, apparently) and a roof-top deck.

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What’s The Deal With Atlantic City’s Municipal Utilities Authority?

Remember when Atlantic City needed to borrow $73 million from the state to pay its bills? Well, the Queen of Resorts got her money, but it came with a few strings attached. One involves Atlantic City’s Municipal Utilities Authority, which provides water to more than 8,000 residents, businesses and vacation-home owners.  

The small print of the loan creates a Catch-22 situation for the city and the water authority.  The loan says Atlantic City’s Council must agree by September 15 to an ordinance that would hand over the water authority, in the event the city is unable to pay back the loan. But the loan also says that if City Council can’t agree on that ordinance before September 15, it could wind up handing over the water authority’s assets anyway, since it would be violating its borrowing terms. And some people worry that if the city agrees to the ordinance, it will give the state a chance to seize the water authority assets anyway, even if the city follows the terms of the agreement.

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Escalating The Surreality Stakes

It wasn’t the first time he’d threatened to pack his bags and abandon the Revel. In fact, it wasn’t even the first time he’d threatened to do so this month. But Glenn Straub, the mercurial owner of the $2.4 billion defunct casino at the northeast end of the Atlantic City boardwalk, stormed out of a land-use meeting early Thursday afternoon, amid unspecific accusations of blackmail, saying he would “shut down” the mega-resort, which he bought for pennies on the dollar in 2015, “forever.” Revel is the second-largest building in the state of New Jersey, and the largest god-damned casino hotel in Atlantic City history. It has been closed for more than two years.

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Straub, CRDA Target September For Former Revel Plan Approval

Glenn Straub, the developer who owns the Atlantic City property formerly known as the Revel casino, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), are hoping to finish the approval process to reopen the site by the end of September, according to documents filed with CRDA on Wednesday. Straub has been complaining to local media about the drawn-out approval process, while CRDA, which governs planning in Atlantic City’s Tourism District, rejected the earlier application because of concerns about access to the site, since Straub wanted to locate a ropes course in the building’s former main entrance. A successful relaunch for the property is key for cash-strapped Atlantic City and, more widely, for Atlantic County. The Revel property is a top taxpayer and the $2.6 billion site has been a looming empty eyesore on the boardwalk since closing in September 2014. The application that Straub made on appeal includes concessions and suggested changes to the vehicle access to the property.

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Toms River thrift snaps up Ocean City Home Bank

OceanFirst Financial Corp, a Toms River-based bank, on Wednesday said it will buy the parent of Ocean City Home Bank for $145.6 million, building on OceanFirst’s South Jersey buying spree after it swallowed up Cape Bank earlier this year. The deal, which will likely close at the end of this year or in the first few months of 2017, will make OceanFirst Bank New Jersey’s No. 4 bank by deposits, according to a press release. The newly combined bank will have $4 billion in loans, $4 billion in deposits and 61 branches from Middletown to Cape May. It was not clear whether there would be branch closures or layoffs as a result of the deal.

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A Surreality Tour of Atlantic County

Living around here can be a surreal experience at times, so we decided to photograph a few of our favorite surreal places in the county. Do you live or visit this area? Do you drive by or live near a bizarre building or abandoned lot? Do you want to know more about it? We’d love to hear from you by email, on Twitter or Instagram – we’d be surprised if we couldn’t add more to this list and we’re up for some local research. We’re pretty sure there are some crazy stories behind these crazy places.

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