FLEMINGTON, N.J. – The borough has posted to its website an analysis of the pending financial agreement – the so-called Payment in Lieu of Taxes document – between the borough and the redeveloper of the Union Hotel and surrounding properties.
The review of the draft agreement by the Otteau Group concludes, “the redevelopment of the subject property with a PILOT is reasonable based on the analysis in the report. In my opinion, the project could be expected to achieve a reasonable rate of return on investment with a PILOT, without it the project is not financially feasible.”
The analysis says that the PILOT “is successfully achieving financial feasibility and ensuring the borough is not in a disadvantageous position.”
The 89-page report will be the subject of review and discussion at Monday’s Borough Council meeting. If the PILOT is eventually adopted, Flemington can expect to receive an average of about $694,000 annually, or more than $20.8 million under the PILOT’s 30-year term, according to the report.
While the report includes a lot of data, its author notes that, “I believe to be reliable the information which was furnished to us by others, but I assume no responsibility for its accuracy.”
The report was paid for by the borough’s designated redeveloper, Jack Cust’s Flemington Center Urban Renewal, LLC. But borough officials have noted that the Otteau Group was chosen as the contractor for the report with their guidance and that of borough professionals.
Flemington Borough Clerk Sallie Graziano rejected a request for a copy of the draft PILOT agreement itself, which was filed this morning by TAPinto Flemington under the state’s Open Public Records Act.
“The full financial agreement has not yet been introduced and is therefore a draft document not subject to release at this point,” Graziano wrote. “If you have any questions about this, you can contact our development attorney.”
In an interview this morning, Mayor Phil Greiner said the borough doesn’t usually release draft documents. The Otteau report relies on data from the draft PILOT agreement, he said, so, “We are releasing the substance” of the PILOT agreement. And that is coming “at least a month” before it would typically be released in a redevelopment project, the mayor said, because such details wouldn’t commonly be made public until an ordinance allowing the PILOT is formally introduced in a public meeting.
While the draft agreement may enjoy a legal shield under OPRA, the mayor acknowledged that the protection doesn’t prevent officials from releasing it anyway, as a matter of public interest. Greiner said he’d willing to discuss its release at Monday’s Borough Council meeting. That will be held at 7 p.m. in the old Historic Courthouse on Main Street.