Clark Council Approves Hyatt Hills Tax Appeal Settlement

A settlement in a tax appeals case will result in the Hyatt Hills Golf Complex being taxed at a recreational-use rate. Credits: Susan R. Bonnell
Hyatt Hills is on the site of a former General Motors property. It is currently held by Racer Trust, the organization charged with selling GM assets following a bankruptcy. Credits: Susan R. Bonnell

CLARK, NJ - At a special meeting of the Clark Township council held on Nov. 9, the council approved a resolution that will settle tax appeals currently pending with Racer Trust regarding the Hyatt Hill Golf Complex.  Racer Trust is the organization charged with selling properties formerly owned by General Motors.

The total amount of the refund to Racer Trust is $804,000, Business Administrator John Laezza said. Incremental credits and payments are built into the settlement agreement.

When the property was converted to a golf course, before Mayor Sal Bonaccorso took office, a verbal agreement was made between the township and General Motors, township attorney Joe Triarsi explained.

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“The taxes would be charged as though it were an industrial site and not a site that was producing no revenue,” Triarsi said.  “It worked for eight, nine, ten years, thereabouts. Then GM went into a bankruptcy and the bankruptcy cuts off all of those agreements.  So we found ourselves with a series of tax appeals.”

Bonaccorso said at the time the deal was struck the higher assessment was a cost-saving measure for General Motors.

“This should have been assessed as recreational, not industrial,” Bonaccorso said. “But GM saved about $265 million by doing what they did up there, using the cap and making a recreation site, so they were only too glad to have it assessed higher and pay more tax dollars.”

The settlement agreement will reduce the property’s assessed value over time. Business Administrator John Laezza said the current assessed property value is $15 million, but the settlement will result in a fair value of $5 million.

“We were conscious of trying to get this thing resolved at or near a number that was close to what our assessor could sustain, and that’s where we are,” Triarsi said.  

“We believe we achieved a result that is economic for the town and beneficial,” he said. “This will allow us to implement that particular settlement and end that litigation.”

The settlement comes at a time when the township will also resolve its affordable housing requirement, which is expected to protect the golf course property from future development. 

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