Redevelopment. It’s something that takes careful planning, foresight, the ability to negotiate for the most favorable outcome, and, of course, patience. I’m proud to say that we’ve been able to reach all of these milestones. Tomorrow, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, we as a community will take the first step together in the culmination of these efforts, when the developer of the Stratton House – a modern, residential apartment building to be located where the vacant King’s now stands – will appear before the Township Planning Board for approval to move forward with this project.
I personally would like to invite you to attend this historic event, as it marks the inaugural step in what will be a significant transformation of our downtown. Empty buildings will give way to attractive, occupied ones, which will enhance the area and help our local businesses to thrive. With the assistance of our Town Planner throughout all stages of the development, all parties involved will work together, following the mandated terms of the redevelopment agreement and bringing the project to final completion.
As you may know, a major reason for the redevelopment of our downtown was due to a New Jersey State Supreme Court mandate regarding each municipality’s affordable housing obligation. While it has been a long, uphill, and expensive battle, we ultimately prevailed, with fabulous results. Berkeley Heights achieved the Court’s approval to cut by over 75% the number of new Trenton-mandated affordable housing units that affordable housing advocates originally sought. This is huge. The settlement order we reached with the Court protects our small town feel. It has helped us to avoid millions of dollars in litigation already. It will also help to protect us from spending millions of dollars in the future, due to Berkeley Heights now being immune for 10 years from lawsuits from builders seeking to increase the number of affordable housing units we’re now authorized to build. Plus, the Court has deemed our settlement order a “model” for other municipalities to follow. I am proud that the countless hours my Town Council colleagues, as well as our municipal professionals and administrative employees, invested in this arduous task have paid off with such favorable outcomes for our community. We have proven that it is, in fact, possible to attain my team’s goals of simultaneously controlling population density while achieving quality results.
Based on my team’s competence and ability to use the legal process to our municipality’s advantage, we have accessed our state’s redevelopment laws to obtain tax advantages through our entry into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) arrangement with a number of developers. A PILOT arrangement eventually requires the developer to pay less taxes. This, however, works to our advantage. Our Township will receive 95% of all tax revenue from the developers with whom we have a PILOT arrangement, with Union County receiving the remaining 5%. Under the “normal” taxation process, our Township would only receive a mere 18% of all the developer’s tax revenue. The PILOT arrangement will therefore bring into Berkeley Heights 77% more tax revenue from developers than it would have otherwise received. Clearly, the citizens of Berkeley Heights are the winners in this arrangement.
As Mayor, I will continue to address difficult issues, such as redevelopment, and achieve positive outcomes for Berkeley Heights. My team and I will do what’s necessary to make Berkeley Heights a great place to live and work, and to keep the momentum going. To do this, we need your support at the polls. Please vote “Column A” for Woodruff, D’Aquila and Greco on the June 5thRepublican primary. Check out our website www.honestresultsBH.com