TOMS RIVER, NJ – After denying the existence of a plan to build houses and retail businesses on the former property owned by Ciba-Geigy, now BASF, Toms River Mayor Mo Hill acknowledged the existence of a plan to build houses and retail businesses on the former federal superfund site.
Hill had previously claimed Shore News Network reports of a plan to develop the former superfund site, were false. In a 2019 Asbury Park Press article, former Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher claimed a report to develop at the site was an ‘outright lie’ and rumor.
Hill served on the township council at the time and was seeking to become the next mayor of Toms River. Since becoming mayor, Hill has denied his involvement in a township plan that showed Ciba-Geigy as a future site of development with retail shops, houses, and mass transit.
Councilman Dan Rodrick, who first exposed the plan in 2019, is now calling upon the township to seek eminent domain of the 250-acre parcel to prevent all future development.
“BASF recently sued the township and claimed the property was nearly worthless and received over $20 million in back taxes from Mayor Hill’s administration,” Rodrick said. “I would like to see the property purchased outright by the township and pay only what the company said the land was worth during their tax appeal, which amounts to about $500,000.”
That development report was soon removed from the township website after being reported on. That plan, shown below, called for the entire site to be turned into residential housing developments.
Weeks after a plan hashed out by Governor Phil Murphy, a former U.S. Diplomat to Germany would set aside 250 acres of the 1,250-acre site in Toms River owned by the German-based BASF corporation, it became known that the deal was a good one for the property owner.
By giving up the 1,000 acres of the former toxic superfund site that has been responsible for the deaths of scores of residents in Toms River, the company will be allowed to develop a 250-acre parcel of land at the side along key commercial arteries.
That 250-acre parcel, by itself, would put the Ciba Geigy property in the 80th percentile of cities by size and landmass in New Jersey alone. It would contribute to the massive expansion of Toms River. It would be the size of 189 full-sized football fields, or roughly one half square mile.
In exchange for handing over the superfund site, BASF will also see its fines waived.
“We’d like to see all of it, but we’re here to listen,” newly appointed township council president Matt Lotano, a developer by trade, said of the agreement between Murphy and BASF.
Rodrick today questioned Lotano’s remark.
“Just who is Council President Lotano listening to?” Rodrick asked. “It definitely isn’t the residents of Toms River, because other than developers like Matt, I haven’t met a single person who wants to see Ciba Geigy developed.”
“They’re setting aside a thousand acres with an environmental center,” Hill said. “There’s still 250 acres out there that BASF wants to develop.”
Hill said the entire parcel should be given up as payment for the damages done to the community over the past 75 years by the Ciba-Geigy superfund site. He wants to see the entire project deeded to the township, but that prospect is unlikely.
Hill is scheduled to meet with that lobbyist sometime this month.
The deal was hashed out by Governor Phil Murphy, who has close ties to German corporations. Murphy recently held a high level meeting, reportedly with a lobbyist working for Jack Morris, and a New Jersey state Senator, the suspected developer of the 250-acre site.