Author Archives: kyorio1528

Decision on Toms River Superfund Solar Farm Coming Soon

The fate of the proposed Toms River solar farm should be known in a couple of weeks when the planning board meets on October 16. Toms River Merchant Solar LLC, which hopes to build New Jersey’s largest farm on the former Ciba-Geigy Superfund Site, must answer the public’s concerns about environmental issues and security, which derailed a decision during September’s Planning Board meeting.

The plan—which calls for 35 megawatt DC ground-mounted solar photovoltaic power generation facility with 90,000-92,000 solar panels—doesn’t just need approval from the town. If passed by the town over the objections of nearby residents who worry that contaminants will be disturbed by the construction, it will then require Ocean County and NJ Department of Environmental Protection approvals. Should it go through, the project will be supervised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The facility would cover almost 118 of the 166 acres leased from the 1,200 overall acres of the Superfund Site on Route 37. If approved, construction could begin as early as February. The project is expected to take six months to complete.

While that would create the biggest solar farm in the state, it pales in comparison to the largest solar farm in the United States. In California, Solar Star covers 3,200 acres with 1.7 million solar panels and produces nearly 580 megawatts of energy. It is actually two co-located solar installations and took three years to complete construction.

Governor Phil Murphy has been a proponent of solar and other renewable energy sources. His energy master plan, released in June, calls for New Jersey to be completely reliant on renewable sources by 2050.

NJ Voters Approve More Than $160 Million in for School Construction

In towns around New Jersey on Tuesday, voters decided on nine school bond referendums. Eight out of the nine passed to fund projects that will total more than $160 million in spending for renovations, upgrades, and new construction.

Five days during the year, school boards can ask voters to approve school construction proposals. The state will fund at least 40 percent of eligible school construction costs through annual debt service aid thanks to the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act. All of the referendums that passed are at least partially eligible for state funds, according to the NJ School Board Association.

According to the NJSBA, the projects that received voter approval are:

In Rutherford, the $45 million plan includes renovating high school science labs and adding them at Union Middle School. It also includes HVAC, electrical and plumbing upgrades.

At Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Burlington County, the nearly $22 million proposal includes fire and security upgrades and renovations of bathrooms, windows, HVAC and more.

In Oaklyn, Camden County, the bond referendum was for a new HVAC system and main entrance, as well as a roof, drains and windows for just under $4 million.

The Carteret School District in Middlesex County asked for $37 million to build a new junior high school for seventh and eighth grade and renovate multiple elementary schools.

Fair Haven schools in Monmouth County passed a referendum for more than $15 million to expand full-day kindergarten, renovate with a focus on STEAM courses and improve security and HVAC systems.

Rockaway Borough in Morris County got approval for expansion and renovation at an elementary school and middle school that will include classrooms, electrical, plumbing and HVAC work totaling about $12.5 million.

Watchung Hills Regional High School, which takes students from Somerset and Morris counties, will undergo renovations including upgrades to the media center and electrical system. The board says no new tax dollars will be needed for the nearly $4 million project thanks to other funds.

In Hawthorne, Passaic County, more than $24 million will go to upgrades and renovations to the media center, science lab, fire and electrical systems. There will also be asbestos removal, roof repairs and a boiler replacement.

The lone referendum to fail:

In Colts Neck, the $25 million proposal addressed indoor air quality by replacing the HVAC and electrical systems and removing asbestos flooring.


Building Resilience with LEED and World Green Building Week

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has released a Measuring Resilience Guide. The publication was created to help community leaders and planners use LEED v4.1 to measure and improve existing community resiliency, which includes building in a way that is cognizant of and adaptive to changing environmental conditions. It also aims for construction that can recover quickly after a crisis or natural disaster and “increases sustainability and quality of life for all residents.”

Resilience is a hot topic, according to the USGBC as more people recognize environmental issues such as flooding and fires needs to be taken into consideration when developing cities and communities.

“USGBC has a vision that buildings and communities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation,” the guide states. “LEED is evolving beyond buildings to the city and community scale to meet this need.”

In other Green news, next week (September 23-29) is World Green Building Week (WGBW), an annual international campaign by the World Green Building Council (WGBC) to raise awareness of green buildings and their impact. This year, WGBC is “calling on all of the building and construction industry supply chain to decarbonize.”

The construction industry has focused its green efforts on a building’s operational emissions and performance in-use. But, according to the WGBC, buildings and construction are responsible for 39 percent of global energy-related carbon emissions and 28 percent of these emissions come from the operational “in-use” phase (heating and cooling of the building), while 11 percent of these emissions are attributed to carbon released during the construction process and material manufacturing.

Follow the conversation on social media through the hashtags #BuildingLife and #WGBW2019.

Impact Study: Residential Construction Will Transform Teaneck

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the impact of six new residential buildings in downtown Teaneck, NJ. A recently released impact study commissioned by the town shows there would be positive financial impact but a change in the general character of the town. Whether the latter is good or bad is, of course, is subjective.

“The new development will generate new residents, and thus more customers for nearby stores, potentially spurring the revitalization of neighborhood retail areas,” the report said. “It will generate substantial tax revenue for the Township.”

And the study showed, “no significant impacts are anticipated on the environment, utilities, or community facilities” at this time.

While it may not change the natural environment, the buildings will change the overall feel of the town the report shows.

“At the same time, the scale and character of the State Street study area will be irreversibly transformed by the development of significantly more dense and taller multifamily residential development that was not contemplated by the Township’s current master plan or reexamination reports, which are meant to guide development in the Township,” the study said.

The six multi-family residential projects are: 1475 Palisade Ave, which was completed in August; 189 The Plaza, which will be reviewed by the Teaneck Board of Adjustment later this month; 140 State Street100 State Street, which had its final site plan approved last week;  1500 Teaneck Road, which is currently under construction; and 1425 Teaneck Road.

 The buildings, which will total just under 600 units when complete, will diversify housing in the area and offer moderate and low-income options, but the they are much taller and more dense than the current buildings in the neighborhood bringing a more “urban, downtown character not seen anywhere in Teaneck.”

The report says it is the kind of development expected in North Jersey cities like Fort Lee and Hackensack.  If and when Teaneck looks to develop again, town officials should look long and hard at the impact and nature of the construction, according to the study.

“The cumulative impacts of the proposed development within the study area must be considered going forward. As such, if development of this type is going to be permitted in the future, it merits a reexamination of the master plan policies and the zoning for the State Street area to determine whether such development is appropriate, and is designed in such a manner as to ensure that it is sensitive to and compatible with existing development to which it is adjacent, as well as the neighborhood of which it is part.”

Kent County, DE, Could See Development Boom 

In Delaware, officials are looking at Kent County for development that can spark short-term construction jobs and long-term employment opportunities. The possibility for growth in the Frederica/Little Heaven area is a large part of the county’s comprehensive development plan. A few projects are already being planned.

Asbury Square is set to be 100,000 square feet of commercial space among eight buildings on more than 21 acres. As part of that development plan, there will be two standalone restaurants of 6,400 square feet, as well as a 98-room hotel. PLUS Review of the plans was completed in late August.

In addition to Asbury Square, this week there is a public hearing regarding the application for the preliminary E. Front Street site of the Little Heaven Commercial Development, a strip mall of more than 6,700 square feet of retail space plus a 2,800-square-foot convenience store and a gas station on nearly three acres.

The development of the area won’t come without pushback, however. There were two workshops planned to inform the public about the plans and future projects and allow for residents to offer feedback on the development plans. The first one was this week and attendees voiced objection to the plans and fear of overdevelopment, according to Delaware State News. The second workshop is next week.

New Jersey Fast-Tracks Newark Pipe Replacement

On Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced that a $120 million bond was going to expedite the replacement of lead service pipes.

The replacement of all of the pipes was previously expected to take about a decade. Now, with the bond approved by the Essex County Improvement Authority, the work could be completed in two to three years. It is expected to get started within a few weeks and, as a bonus, will bring jobs to the area as it rids residents of dangerous, lead-tainted water.

In July, the city bid three projects (Lead Service Line Replacement Program AB, and C) for the second phase of the Lead Service Line Replacement Program, which detailed the trenchless replacement of up to 500 lead service lines for single-family residences—from the water main in the street to the meter in the house. The work included excavation, removal of the existing service line, installation of one-inch copper service line and curb stop and box, testing and flushing, backfill, soil erosion and sediment control, traffic control, legal disposal of contaminated or hazardous materials, full restoration of pavement, landscaping, sidewalk curbs, and more.

“This new funding will enable us to award contracts simultaneously and more quickly,” Baraka said in a press release. “It will also allow us to finish the work in less time than we originally anticipated.”

At the press conference announcing the bond and new, fast-tracked plans, Baraka said, “We’re going to bring more crews in, obviously, have a project manager over this and being putting more people on the ground simultaneously to do this kind of work throughout the city.”

There will be no charge to impacted homeowners, he said, but the city will need permission from the owners to do the work.

On Wednesday, Newark put out an RFQ for contractors qualified to perform lead hazard control in homes throughout Newark

More than 770 service lines have been replaced since March, and there are 18,000 lines that need to be replaced, according to Baraka. The city gave out more than 30,000 water filters to residents and when those were found to be ineffective, they tried to distribute bottled water—which created long lines at distribution centers and forced people to carry cases of the bottles back to their homes.

With no issues found at the source in Pequannock, the only solution is to replace the old, lead-laden pipes. With this bond, Murphy and Baraka said,  the city can get it done in a much more time-sensitive way and bring relief to worried residents sooner than later.


Golf and Entertainment Complex To Be Built in King of Prussia, PA

Golfers in the Philadelphia area are going to be able to hit the driving range year-round. If they want quiet, though, they’ll have to go somewhere else.

Last week, developers received approval to build a TopGolf facility in King of Prussia, PA. The three-story, 68,000 square-foot building at 588 North Gulph Rd. is expected to house indoor and outdoor driving range bays of various sizes and golf simulators and games, but the complex will not only be about golf.

TopGolf bills its locations across the country as entertainment destinations and party venues. There will be a bar, food, big-screen TVs and, if the King of Prussia location follows suit with the others, it’ll be open seven days a week closing at midnight at the earliest. It will also offer lessons and a summer academy for kids.

It will sit less than a quarter mile from the Valley Forge Casino Resort.

To make room for the sports and entertainment complex and redevelop the 23-acre site, the two existing buildings that were part of the American Baptist Churches USA’s former headquarters will be demolished. The project is expected to bring $35 million and 450 construction jobs to the community while in progress and employ several hundred people while bringing in $30 million over a 10-year period after completion, according to the Montgomery County news site

This would be the first TopGolf facility in Eastern Pennsylvania, and only second in the state with one in Pittsburgh. TopGolf has two locations in New Jersey— in Mt. Laurel and Edison.

New Law Aims to Expedite TTF Projects, Aid Infrastructure Repair

As Newark residents deal with the crisis of lead in the water, once again the dangerously aging infrastructure in New Jersey is in the spotlight.

Last month, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that aims to better the process for Transportation Trust Fund projects, which is intended to reduce delays in planning and bidding and save money. That should also impact the ability to get moving on infrastructure projects around the state, according to the bill sponsors.

“If we are going to improve our failing infrastructure, the state must do a better job with the TTF money.” said assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), one of the sponsors of the bill.

Projects similar in size and scope that are funded in part or completely through TTF can now be bundled and included under a single contract, according to Supporters of the law say that should expedite approvals, control costs and get projects moving more quickly.

State senate president Steve Sweeney said the law will “facilitate the timely contracting and completion of capital projects by allowing third-party engineering consultants to ensure that contractors are completing projects on time and within budget. This will make the construction and repair of vital transportation projects more efficient and more effective. We want to put people to work and get the projects done in a timely manner so that improvements to our roads, bridges and other transportation facilities are made as quickly as possible.”

We’d like to know what you think—will this law have a positive impact?

Apprenticeship Law Impacts Companies

This year’s new apprenticeship requirements appear to be impacting the number of contractors who seek public works registration certification.

The law requires New Jersey public works contractors to participate in a U.S. Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program to get or renew a public works contractor’s registration certificate. It requires any apprenticeship program include training for “every classification of worker that is employed on public works projects.”

According to the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the year to date numbers show a marked decline in contractors seeking the certification in the state.

As of June 30, 2018, NJ Labor Department registered 4,429 contractors.

As of June 30, 2019, there were 2,518 contractors registered.

While we can’t say how much of the drop is caused by the new law, which was signed by the governor in January, anecdotally, we do know some contractors have not sought a new license this year specifically because of the apprenticeship requirement.

“The Labor Department is committed to working with contractors to help them into compliance with the new apprenticeship requirement,” a department spokesperson said in an email.

We’d like to hear from you. How has the apprenticeship law impacted your company?

Hackensack Looks To The Record Site To Lead City’s Riverside Redevelopment

The Record newsroom in Hackensack was never known for its fancy amenities. The printing press would rumble to life in the old building adjacent to the Hackensack River, and the work of reporters and editors would transfer to the page before being moved to delivery trucks to spread the area’s news to the people of Bergen County. When the owners of the newspaper moved its headquarters to Woodland Park, the site sat vacant for years.

Soon, though, developers will break ground on a $145 million redevelopment of the site, creating luxury apartments and retail units in a project that is Hackensack’s first luxury, mixed-used riverfront community and the largest project of its kind in the city, according to City officials hope it leads the transformation of the waterfront area from largely industrial to residential and retail, and becomes a destination for people looking to move or shop in Bergen County.

The Record building was demolished in 2018, clearing the way for a redevelopment plan that will build approximately 700 luxury residences spread among five buildings. There will be 18,000 square-feet of retail space and a hotel on the 19.7 acre property.

The neighboring Heritage Diner will remain in place. Plans for the USS Ling, a submarine that was part of the NJ Naval Museum that once operated from the property, have not been announced.

The redevelopment is expected to create 250 construction jobs, and the project is expected to be fully completed in 2025.