FAIRFIELD, NJ — An ordinance authorizing a special emergency appropriation of $225,000 for the preparation and execution of a complete program of revaluation of real property for the use of the Fairfield Township tax assessor was approved during the Fairfield Township Council’s recent meeting.
As previously reported, the Essex County Tax Board has filed a court order for the township to undergo a revaluation process that will begin this month. Although council members have expressed that this is not something that the township wants to do, the county has mandated this process because property values have increased over the last few years in Fairfield. According to the council, most recent revaluation was conducted in 2008 for the 2009 tax year.
The governing body also authorized the execution of a settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center.
Township Business Administrator Joseph Catenaro explained that this settlement means the township will now be exempt from any builders' “remedy lawsuits.” This includes any legal action taken by a property developer in an attempt to force a municipality to permit construction of a large, multi-family housing structure or complex due to the Mt. Laurel decision that holds municipalities responsible for providing affordable housing to low-and moderate-income households, Catenaro explained.
“In addition to the existing units, which were included in prior rounds, Fairfield will provide 31 low-to-moderate units from projects that were approved in the recently created overlay zones,” said Catenaro.
In other news, Catenaro informed the mayor and council that all paperwork was submitted to the state for the evaluation of Best Practices. He said it appears that Fairfield will receive the full allotment of state funds.
In order to get the full allotment, it was necessary to answer in the affirmative to 95 percent of the 61 questions asked by the state. Mayor James Gasparini said that because the state adds more questions each year, it has made it more difficult to receive the full allotment.
It was also announced that during recent storms, the Passaic River crested at more than 20 feet, flooding low-lying areas in town. Gasparini said that this caused minor road closings, and reminded residents to sign up for the township’s Nixle alerts through the website www.fairfieldnj.org.
The communities of Fairfield, Lincoln Park, Wayne and Montville will be meeting on Dec. 11 to become informed on the process of how water is released from the dams upstream. When water is released from these dams, it has a great effect on flooding in our community as experienced in the flood from Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
In follow up to a previous meeting where the mayor announced that Fairfield has been in discussion with Montville about how to open up the Passaic River from the fallen trees due to last winter’s many storms, Gasparini explained last week that no progress was made over the summer due to the amount of rainfall.
Additionally, the council authorized the hiring of Oswald Enterprises, Inc. for emergency storm sewer cleaning at Forest Place and Summit Avenue to alleviate a problem caused by flash flooding.
William Billitz, a resident of Laurel Place, addressed the mayor and council on his concerns about the buffer between his property and the industrial building near his property. Catenaro suggested that Billitz come to his office to discuss the situation and review the ordinances and variances that were approved for the industrial complex.