For all the excitement that came with the sight of the old Route 9 clock factory being torn down, there have been some concerns by residents about the status of the seemingly stalled project.
At an event where he addressed members of the Howell Chamber of Commerce, Deputy Mayor William Gotto said work had stopped at the site when asbestos was discovered in the building.
Citing the demolition as an example of the township's property maintenance code, Gotto said the asbestos will not stop the project from going forward once the proper permits have been obtained by the owner.
He also said he was glad to see the work that had already been done while there was still more to do. "What would you rather have, would you rather have a building that's sitting there vacant, that is an eyesore and has no plans to ever be knocked down filled with graffiti," he asked. "Or would you rather have someone talking about knocking it down, filing for his permits at the DEP to do asbestos abatement so he can continue to remove the building."
The property maintenance code, he said also gives the township certain options if the owner does not further pursue the building's demolition. "If it stays the way it is and he doesn't file or his permits, we have a property maintenance ordinance that says you need to do this," he said. "Yes it's a pile of rubble, and there's a reason it's a pile of rubble."
Councilman Robert Nicastro said it was "disappointing," seeing the project stuck after work had already begun. "You'd like to see it torn down yesterday but I understand that there's some hazards that have to be mitigated through the state," he said. "We're confident it's going to get completed."
On Wednesday night Nicastro said the township's building department has "contacted the property owner to have them secure the site until the state allows the demolition to continue." The councilman added that a summons will then be issued if the site is not secured in a timely manner.
When it is finally brought down, Gotto said that will be a good step forward for the township. "You can't get any more central in the middle of our town," he said. "It's right in the middle of Route 9 and it's right in the middle of 195. It's being torn down because of the process that got put in place with the property maintenance code."