Letters to the Editor

Community Impact Fees - Let’s set the record straight


I have read the recent candidate statement as well as some social media posts which suggest that the Town somehow “missed out” on charging the owners of the affordable housing projects a surcharge or imposing a “development fee” as a condition of approving those projects.  While I am sure this suggestion is well-intentioned, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what the affordable housing and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (“PILOT”)  process allows.  As an aside, the process and these projects have been discussed for well over a year and the concept of using a development fee to improve fields have not been brought up until now, 1 week before the election  day.  

Let me set the record straight:  (1) You are unable to layer on charges such as an impact fee on affordable housing projects without the Town paying for it one way or another; (2) The PILOT is a tool in our toolbox to get better looking projects, lower density (a decrease in the number of units) and taxes coming directly to our town (95%) with 5% going to the County—Normally the County gets around 25%.  When the Town Council negotiated the Kings and Locust properties (Connell is not eligible for one), they required lower density (Locust: 300+ market rate demand by developer vs. 196 age-restricted actual; Kings: 180 demanded vs. 150 to be built), plus better building construction design while meeting affordable housing requirements.  Some examples we negotiated in ADDITION to the above requirements are: Locust Ave - Sidewalk enhancements along Locust to the Berkeley Heights Community Pool and a TRAFFIC LIGHT on Snyder and Locust; Kings property - negotiated all parking inside the structure and streetlight and sidewalk improvements to Sherman avenue all the way to Plainfield Ave.  It is ALL ON the developer to add these enhancements not on the tax payer as well the TOWN gets the benefits of the PILOT payments.  Additionally for Locust the developer originally wanted a 10% PILOT payment and we were able to negotiate a 13% payment.  The Town can use this increased revenue to pay down debt, add to our surplus or for other capital improvements including fields.  Our experts all examined this (Lawyer, Appraiser, Planner, CFO) from a financial, construction and legal perspective. It is very simple--By asking for another fee the developers would simply look for more money (lower PILOT payments), more units to pay for the extra costs of development fees, eliminate the construction enhancements, and go back to court.   

The last thing we want is more units or blight in our small town. The Town Council did everything plus more to negotiate with developers while dropping the number of overall affordable units from 858 to around 200 hundred that will actually be built.  I am very proud of what we have done as I believe it is in the best interest of the residents of Berkeley Heights.

Sign Up for E-News

Here are the links to the Pilot explanations:

Look at the Town Council Meeting starting at 34:56 when Matt Jessup who is the EXPERT discusses PILOTs.  He is the Redevelopment Bond Counsel and Pilot Counsel.  He even states that our requirements of aesthetics were strong and he very rarely sees a pilot negotiated over 10% and our Town Council negotiated 13%! Starting at 34:56

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Sleep out at Covenant House

June 18, 2018

I can enjoy the same movies over and over like it were the first time to see them.  My kids roll their eyes at this.  Well, many unimaginable things happen as you become a certain age, and you tend to learn to accept those things graciously as gift.   But I remember the movie “The Blind Side.”  Until I saw that movie, I didn’t know homeless children ...

Kessler Foundation Seeks Volunteers with Spinal Cord Injury for New Study!

June 18, 2018

Kessler Foundation is a research center in West Orange, NJ that specializes in disability research. We are currently seeking individuals with spinal cord injury to participate in a new research study:

Dr. John O'Neill, principal investigator in Spinal Cord Injury research seeks volunteers for a spinal cord injury study. The purpose of this study is to identify ways of enhancing the ...

Horse Care Workshops at Lord Stirling Start June 23

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — Somerset County Park Commission Lord Stirling Stable is offering Horse Care Workshop 101 for adults and youth seeking to gain experience and confidence around horses through a combination of non-riding activities and hands-on practice.

Horse Care Workshop 101 will be held at Lord Stirling Stable, 256 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge, NJ beginning Saturday June ...

Dine at Chipotle in New Providence, June 18, in Support of Covenant House

Support Covenant House by making dinner a selfless act and support a fundraiser that supports Covenant House. Come in to Chipotle at 1260 Springfield Ave. in New Providence on Monday June 18 between 4 and 8 p.m. Click here to print flyer, or show it on your smartphone or tell the cashier you're supporting the cause for 50 percent of proceeds to be donated to Covenant House.

About: ...

Refugee Assistance Partners of NJ to Host World Refugee Day Event

Refugee Assistance Partners (RAP) of New Jersey will be hosting a World Refugee Day program on Wednesday, June 20, 7 pm at Willow Grove Church, 1961 Raritan Rd, Scotch Plains.  RAP, a non-profit, volunteer organization of Union County, recognizes and salutes the tenacity and gifts, skills and talents of refugees worldwide.  Spokesperson, Jill Segulin said, “We recognize the ...

Watchung Borough Mayor and Council Approve Affordable Housing Settlement

June 9, 2018

WATCHUNG, NJ -The Watchung Borough Council voted on Thursday night  to settle its third round affordable housing obligation mandated by the state of New Jersey. Watchung Borough’s immunity from builder's remedy lawsuits  expires on June 30.

 Mayor Stephen Pote was forced to cast the deciding vote after the council deadlocked at 3-3.

Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith Attends Gun Safety Bills Signing Ceremony with Gov. Murphy in Trenton

June 14, 2018

TRENTON, NJ -- Mayor Al Smith attended a gun safety package bill signing ceremony at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton on Wednesday with Governor Phil Murphy. Mayor Smith joined a bipartisan group of local and state elected officials, as well as members of Moms Demand Action of Union County, at the event. 

“As a leader in Sandy Hook Promise, I was happy to accept the ...

Union County Freeholders Support LGBTQ Community with Historical Pride Flag Raising Ceremony

June 4, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The rainbow flag, a symbol of pride and independence fly’s high at the Union County Courthouse in recognition of June as LGBTQ Pride Month. 

This historic event by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the Office of LGBTQ Services, Department of Human Services and many others, brought dignitaries and people from all over New Jersey to the steps of the ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, June 18, 4:00 PM

Chipotle, New Providence

Dine at Chipotle in New Providence June 18 in ...

Food & Drink Giving Back

Wed, June 20, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

The Masterwork Chorus Launches 19th Summer Sing ...

Arts & Entertainment


Mon, June 25

Summit YMCA, Summit

June 2018 College Tour


Mon, June 25, 9:00 AM


Kids' Critter Camp


Berkeley Heights Here and Now: May Edition

Berkeley Heights Here and Now

How to Design Your Ideal Retirement

Would you like to design your ideal retirement? Where do you begin? First of all, what does retirement mean to you? If you’re in a relationship, does retirement mean the same to you as it does to your partner? Do you know if your “ideal retirement” is affordable or just a pipe dream?

In past generations, retirement planning didn’t involve very much. You stopped work ...