City moves ahead with ‘Neighborhoods’ development

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EGG HARBOR CITY - The next phase of construction of the city’s largest housing development in years will soon begin now that City Council has authorized an agreement with its developer.

City Council voted 7-1 Thursday, May 24 on a resolution directing Mayor Joseph Kuehner Jr. to sign the agreement with Brad Haber of Cedar Creek LLC on the first land transaction for the Neighborhoods at Cedar Creek.

City Councilman Cliff Mays cast the lone no vote and Councilwoman Hazel Mueller abstained.

Under the agreement, Haber will pay $15,000 per lot for the first 22 lots or $330,000, according to city attorney Alfred Scerni. He will then have 180 days to purchase the next 23 lots for $15,000 a lot or $345,000.

During that time, Haber will begin constructing the necessary infrastructure improvements – sewer, streets and curbing – needed for the development, Scerni said.

Also, Haber will place $440,000 in a cash escrow account to pay for the work to be completed in case his company fails to finish the required work in the 180-day timeline, Scerni said.

“This will enable us to finish the job,” Council President Ed Dennis said.

At the end of 180 days, Scerni said, $345,000 of the $445,000 will go toward the purchase of the 23 lots and $100,000 would go to guarantee the performance of a drainage basin.

The city was forced to ask for cash performance guarantees rather than to seek guarantees in the form of performance bonds because of the difficulties that area municipalities are having in getting insurance companies to pay on those bonds, Scerni said.

“The insurance companies just aren’t paying,” Dennis said. “That’s how it is.”

“I have not seen an insurance company pay from a performance bond,” city engineer Ed Walberg said.

In addition, Haber is still complied to carry the require liability insurance, Dennis said.

Ed Walberg said. “I’m much more comfortable with cash in hand. That was how it operated for years, but it’s a different world right now.”

The Egg Harbor City North project, now the Neighborhoods at Cedar Creek, received New Jersey Pinelands Commission approval in January and city Planning Board approval in February.

The project’s first phase will include nearly 100 homes built on the first few blocks on the western side of Philadelphia Avenue near CedarCreekHigh School.

If fully completed, the Neighborhoods at Cedar Creek could grow to 300 homes in a large area surrounding the new high school.

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