2008-12-13 / Business

Hercules gets hard-won approval to subdivide

Manufacturer plans to sell to industrial site redeveloper
BY MICHAEL ACKER Staff Writer

SAYREVILLE — Hercules Inc. recently gained approval to subdivide its property after settling litigation with the borough, which had denied its request earlier this year.

The company filed a lawsuit after the Planning Board rejected its application to subdivide its property off Cheesequake Road in Parlin. Hercules wants to sell more than half its land after subdividing it, and at a public meeting last week company representatives introduced a potential buyer, International Risk Group LLC of Littleton, Colo., which specializes in environmental risks and redeveloping contaminated assets.

In its lawsuit, Hercules sought a summary judgment in state Superior Court. Judge James P. Hurley denied that request and set a trial date, but that will not be necessary in light of the settlement the two parties have reached.

On Dec. 3, the Planning Board voted 9-0 in favor of the minor subdivision, since Hercules agreed to a provision requiring the company and the purchaser of the land to provide correspondence and documentation regarding the site's contamination to the borough clerk's office and to the borough engineer.

State Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is a Sayreville-based attorney, stepped down from the role of representing Hercules during a contentious process of seeking approval for the subdivision. Wisniewski contends that there was never a conflict of interest in his representing Hercules, despite criticism from his political opponents.

Attorney Charles B. Liebling of the New Brunswick-based law firm of Windels, Marx, Lane & Mittendorf, now represents the applicant. He said the company is pleased to settle this matter in an amicable fashion with the borough.

He said the company will retain 166 acres of the 500-plus-acre site, selling the remaining property as surplus real estate.

Thomas Howard Strang, vice president of safety, health, environmental and regulatory affairs at Hercules, has said Hercules will retain the tertiarybutyl alcohol (TBA) contamination plumes, which it is responsible for cleaning up along with recharging on-site water with iron oxide contamination. He said the company is still involved in negotiations with IRG regarding the sale of the other half of the property.

Resident Phil Gelfand of Zaleski Drive attended the latest Planning Board meeting to find out what the prospective buyer intends to do with the land.

Brent C. Anderson, who is CEO of IRG, said his company is likely going to develop the property with a mix of industrial uses, for which the land is zoned. He said that is a potentially safer development choice in light of the recession. He said the company is interested in learning what the community's needs and desires are for the site.

Jarrett Layraway, IRG's program manager, said he was grateful for the opportunity that the site offers the developer. The 1995 graduate of Rutgers University said he looks forward to the chance to remediate and redevelop a Brownfield site in his home state.

"This project is definitely near and dear to my heart," he said.

Layraway said the board could expect to receive an application within a year on the developer's plans for the site. The cleanup process and development of the site is projected to take about four years to complete.

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