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TRENTON-Newark, Camden and Jersey City have been in the headlines with major redevelopment initiatives, but that wild card called politics has reared its head in all three places. Of the three, the plan to rebuild Camden is in the most trouble.

Late last week, Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco announced the $150-million Camden plan. (To read that story, click on: $150 Mil Makeover plan Proposed for Camden.)

It amounted to a state takeover of the city, and enabling legislation was introduced in the State Senate by Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden) with lukewarm support from Camden’s new mayor, Gwen Faison.

But strong opposition arose immediately, with city council president Angel Fuentes leading a rally and several other officials angrily denouncing the potential loss of home rule. The virulent reaction forced Bryant to pull his bill, which was scheduled for a committee hearing yesterday.

“I’m saddened that the debate has obscured what we’re seeking to accomplish for overburdened property taxpayers of Camden, and the millions of dollars our proposal will invest,” Bryant said while withdrawing his bill. “I’m disheartened that negotiations with the city haven’t yielded a resolution.”

If nothing happens, the bill will die at the end of the legislative session, less than three weeks away. “Camden’s window of opportunity will close on June 30,” Bryant lamented.

In the case of the 18,500-seat arena complex proposed for Newark as a new home for the NBA Nets and NHL Devils, Essex County officials are raising questions. According to a published report, county officials won’t sign off on it unless YankeeNets, owner of the franchises, repays the $50 million county and city residents will pour into it.

The project will cost $355 million, with YankeeNets laying out $115 million. Another $190 million will come from the state in the form of diverted sales taxes from Newark (the city’s 3% urban enterprise zone tax rate would be bumped up to the statewide 6%). Another $50 million would come from the local and county governments. But the project requires a bond issue by the county, which isn’t likely to happen unless YankeeNets agrees to pay back the $50 million local taxpayers are chipping in, according to the report.

In Jersey City, a key issue in the recent mayoral race was tax and other incentives for businesses. Glenn D. Cunningham ran on a platform of reduced incentives for developers and businesses and more help for the city’s non-waterfront neighborhoods. City council president Tom DeGise was endorsed by outgoing mayor Bret Schundler, whose administration was lavish in its business-related incentives. Cunningham won.

“There has been a feeling that the city has been too quick to help developers on the waterfront, at the expense of the rest of the city,” Cunningham told reporters after his election. “We want the benefits to filter into other neighborhoods. I’m going to be a neighborhood mayor. People all over the city have to feel that waterfront development benefits them, too, which isn’t the case now.”

Cunningham quickly appointed former Hudson County freeholder Louis Manzo to lead a study on the city’s policies on business incentives. Observers say it’s too early to tell how tight the new administration will be with incentives, but developers involved in the city say they’re cautiously optimistic.

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