WESTFIELD, NJ — Homeowners who install porches, decks or make other improvements to their historically designated abodes won’t face the tax hikes that would typically come with such upgrades, town officials said.
Under measures approved by the town council Tuesday, owners of historically designated homes in Westfield who renovate or otherwise improve those residences are now eligible for five-year tax abatements on the value of those improvements. The tax incentive follows a similar tax abatement plan the town council approved in May specifically for properties within the downtown.
“This ordinance simply amends the tax abatement previously implemented for the downtown’s special improvement district and will expand it to now include historically designated properties within the town,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle in her prepared remarks. “As a reminder, this tax abatement only applies to the value of improvements to properties and therefore does not impact current tax revenue paid to the town.”
In an 8-1 vote, council members approved the measure, which to enable the town to offer the tax incentive, declares the municipality an “area in need of rehabilitation” under the state’s municipal land use law.
Councilman Mark LoGrippo cast the dissenting vote.
“Declaring the entire town blighted in order to hand out tax breaks to a select few, regardless of their income, is a misuse of the tax abatement program,” LoGrippo said, following the virtual meeting. “And any benefits are outweighed by the loss of property rights and tax revenues. In the end, it unfairly burdens other homeowners with additional taxes.”
Brindle has said she modeled the measure after a similar one that Metuchen, located in Middlesex County, had approved.
On introducing it, Westfield officials said they drafted the measure to incentivize homeowners to designate their homes as historic following controversial updates the council approved last month strengthening Westfield’s historic preservation law.
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