Cranford Township Committee Introduces PILOT Ordinance for Birchwood Development

The Cranford Township Committee introduced an ordinance establishing a PILOT program for the Birchwood development at Tuesday night's meeting. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna

CRANFORD, NJ – With a 4-to-1 majority vote, the Cranford Township Committee introduced an ordinance that establishes a financial agreement with Birchwood Developers Associates, LLC for the Birchwood Avenue redevelopment at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The ordinance solidifies a long-term tax exemption Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) program for the Birchwood property. The property, which was purchased by the township in 2016, will house 225 apartment units. It is estimated for completion in 2020, according to Exhibit A of the ordinance.

Because the township entered into the financial agreement, the developers will not pay conventional taxes. Upon completion of the project and occupancy of the development, the township will collect a certain percentage of Birchwood’s total revenue for about 30 years.

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Per the ordinance, the township will receive approximately $588,173 in revenue in the first year after substantial completion.

According to Commissioner Patrick Giblin, who voted “no” for the ordinance, the money brought in from the PILOT will benefit the board of education.

“This township committee has committed to coming up with a process to dedicate proceeds from the PILOT to the board of education,” Giblin said. “We expect to introduce something at the next meeting. That was one of the stated reasons for purchase of the Birchwood property and we do intend to make sure those revenues are used to go where they’re needed.”

Deputy Mayor Ann Dooley said she feels this is one of the only circumstances where a PILOT is appropriate.

“The resolution confirming our commitment to make sure the board of education receives money from the Birchwood PILOT is extremely important to all of us,” Dooley said. “It is the major reason that we acquired the property, in order to take down the density in order to protect our schools. This is the type of PILOT that is appropriate. Redevelopment in and of itself does not mean you’re entitled to a PILOT. From my perspective, this is one of the rarer applications that deserves a PILOT, particularly because we are looking out for the board of education.”

The ordinance will be put to final vote at a later meeting.

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