WARETOWN, NJ – It’s not the first time that Ocean Township residents have collected signatures for a petition. When Wawa closed a few months ago, someone submitted a group of names imploring the store to reopen.  Meanwhile, the now active petition is directed at town officials.

As of early this morning, the Concerned Citizens of Waretown have collected 232 signatures in opposition  to tax abatements for any residential development.  Supporters were afforded the opportunity to back up their reasons for signing the petition.

“We are all in this together so no one should be getting a tax abatement while taxes are being raised for the rest of us,” shared someone who identified herself as Marie Leaming. “Any business coming to Waretown should pay taxes especially if they bring children into our schools.”

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The whole issue of a tax abatement first surfaced at an Ocean Township Board of Education meeting last month.  At that time, Board members appeared to agree that granting any type of tax abatement would potentially put an undue burden on the school district’s budget.

 Board of Education Attorney Andrew Brown suggested that the best course of action would be for him to draft a formal resolution for the Board’s consideration. Notably, that resolution won’t be voted on until after the Township Committee meets this week.

In September, the Township Committee voted on the first reading of a resolution concerning a five-year tax abatement.  Mayor Ben LoParo attempted to change the language of the document to exclude residential properties. When his request was denied, he voted again the abatement.

Nonetheless, the first reading of the resolution passed with both Deputy Mayor Ken Baulderstone and Committeewoman Lydia Dodd voting in favor of it.

Some insist that the proposed change is intended to give a break to the property directly across from the Shop Rite on Route 9. Developers started building Tradewinds at Waretown Apartments months ago. However, the work has come to a standstill and the property has many upset at its appearance.

The Township Committee has already denied the Tradewinds developer two prior requests for tax relief. One came before development even started. No one on the Committee has publicly suggested that the intent of the short-term tax abatement is to put the project back in motion.

While the land remains undeveloped, landowners currently have a tax bill of $58K.  Ultimately, residential housing and new stores would up the revenue.