The Oyster Creek nuclear plant shut down temporarily again this weekend. Newsworks reports that the nation’s oldest nuclear plant had a problem with its turbine control system. It’s maybe a good time to revisit this letter from NJ’s Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel which said the frequent incidents at the plant show it should close before its scheduled 2020 shutdown. Everyone is gearing up for or winding down to the Thanksgiving holiday, which is shaping up to be warmer than today, at least, although there’s a chance of a few showers. Dan Skeldon has the forecast.
Kellie is a mother, homeowner and casino worker. She’s also lost two young family members to gun violence. One of them was her 13-year-old son, who was murdered in 2012. Her nephew, 17, was killed this year. She has another child, 9, that she worries about.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s highly representative-of-the-community board of directors voted to give themselves more time to think about it before they approved a request for a variance to build a duplex—a duplex—at 206 Vermont Avenue in Atlantic City’s South Inlet. The lot is currently zoned for resort commercial development, a legacy of the casino boom years when people thought someone might build a megaresort or big high-rise on Vermont Avenue (though “Of course we now recognize that won’t happen”). CRDA has zoning authority because the land is in the tourism district. 206 Vermont is currently a little vegetable patch, on an amazingly barren and desolate stretch of land in the shadow of the (formerly $2.4 billion) former Revel casino. Approving a modest, two-family house on such valuable real estate would set a new precedent, board members remarked, after noting they’d all seen presentations from big developers (presumably) for the football-fields worth of vacant lots.
It was a big week in national and local news, with a general election and a state takeover of Atlantic City. While there was a lot of relief that the campaign period ended, we wrote about some of the interesting ballot questions and the results from referenda that include everything from changing the way of choosing a school board (Linwood) to introducing liquor licenses (Ventnor). The following day the state decided to take over Atlantic City and we wrote about the – still up-in-the-air – consequences of that decision. The weather, meanwhile, was mostly fantastic and there were some great photos taken of fall foliage and wintry sunsets. Maybe next week we’ll have some amazing shots of the super moon.
We were in Trenton today to follow what went down at the meeting of state officials tasked with deciding whether or not to take over Atlantic City. Two things were decided in quick succession – so quick, in fact, that most people in the room missed them – and that may or may not have been deliberate, you decide: 1. The state approved Atlantic City’s 2016 budget with one change 2. The change was to raise property taxes in the city (which as we know is already gasping after the tax rate has doubled in five years)
The state’s local finance board then voted unanimously to execute the state’s power to take the reins in Atlantic City, but took the option of bankruptcy off the table, meaning that the state has to turn the city around without filing for court protection from its creditors. When pressed by the press, the bureaucrat now in charge of Atlantic City, Tim Cunningham, said that he wasn’t sure exactly what new powers he has or what he will do.
It was a bizarre week weather-wise that went from warm to chilly enough to make you wear a coat over a Halloween costume to so hot there were sunbathers on the beach and then back to cold again. Meanwhile, in South Jersey news, we started out with the rejection of Atlantic City’s recovery plan, the resubmission of Atlantic City’s recovery plan and – 0h – Bridgegate, the verdict. And if you’re asking what that all means for Christie, read this. If you’re asking what it means for Christie’s plans for Atlantic City – we wish we knew too. The rest of the noise around here this week has been about the election – and referendum questions.
John Exadaktilos, proprietor of the Ducktown Tavern on Atlantic and Georgia Avenues in Atlantic City, is considering a bid for city council. Who looks at the Atlantic City council and says, “I want to be part of that party?” we wondered. Johnny Ex had a quick answer. “It’s not a party. It’s a debacle.”
Atlantic City’s patchwork of tax agreements that lets casinos and outlet stores pay lower rates is unconstitutional and should be overturned, according to a Tea-Party-affiliated group that is seeking to bring a lawsuit to challenge the system known as Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). The Somers Point-based group is working to persuade Atlantic County officials and suburban mayors to join a lawsuit against the PILOT, since it strips the whole county of tax revenue, said the organization’s executive director Seth Grossman. “The plan is to try to persuade the county government and the suburban mayors to join our lawsuit to put an end to this tax abatement and to win allies around the state to support this,” he said, in an interview at his office on Monday. “This problem is affecting every city and state government.” The PILOT program, which Grossman likes to call Peanuts In Lieu of Taxes, was originally designed to spur development.
This morning, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and a support team of lawyers are testifying before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in Trenton to try and win support for the city’s recovery plan. The Press of Atlantic City’s Christian Hetrick is providing a rundown on Twitter (@_hetrick) and the deal – which includes agreements on city union contracts, significant cost cuts and no tax increases for five years – seems pretty impressive. The one question hanging over it, as Amy Rosenberg raised in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday, is the extent to which the city’s biggest taxpayer, the Borgata casino, is on board. The Borgata said yesterday it had no agreement with the city – but the casino is prepared to discuss a reduction of the amount the city owes it in taxes it overpaid in previous years. The Borgata, as the city’s advisors well know, doesn’t really trust Atlantic City after long-running litigation over its taxes, and it is apparently waiting for the state’s ruling on the recovery plan.