The Sussex Borough Council on August 16 took another step toward selling several properties it owns that it has had appraised, and another property the borough recently took ownership of through a tax foreclosure.
Sussex Borough now has control of 12-18 Main St., previously owned by Helios Theta Properties, LLC, according to county property records, and has had the property inspected.
Borough attorney Frank McGovern said the building appears to have environmental and structural issues and said the borough’s best bet would be to sell the property to someone who can come in and rehabilitate the property.
“The way I structured it is to have a several-step process to go through once they own the property,” McGovern said.
The first thing would be to post a performance bond to ensure the proper steps are taken. An environmental assessment would need to be done, and then a detailed plan on how to address the concerns. A buyer would then have to remediate the property.
If conditions are not met, the borough could call the bond and regain ownership of the property.
“Number one is you may not want that property back,” McGovern said. “But number two is you may want to allow a certain amount of discretion.”
Councilman Frank Dykstra said he already had one party tell him they are interested in the property when it comes up for sale.
“I would rather see the building improved,” Council President Robert Holowach said. “I don’t know what it’s going to be some day, but I’d rather see that happen faster as opposed to sitting on it.”
Dykstra said he is not opposed to the council setting a reasonable minimum bid.
“You always have the option to reject all bids,” McGovern said. “So, if you get a series of bids and you look at them, and they’re just horrible, you can always just say ‘no.’”
Councilman Charles Fronheiser suggested putting all the properties the borough recently had appraised on the market for the minimum value, and the council instructed McGovern to draft a resolution for the council’s next meeting.
Councilman Mario Poggi said he had reservations about selling a property where the new ShopRite is being built on Route 23 on the Wantage Township line.
“I think it’s too early for that property,” Poggi said.
Dykstra said the borough should also not sell a property on Route 23 South that he said could be important to the borough’s master plan. He said if the property is sold, the borough would lose the ability to use it as a parking lot, as it is flat, and already has drainage and a curb cut.
“It’s a very valuable piece,” Dykstra said. “It’s one of the more valuable pieces of property that we have.”