WESTFIELD, NJ — Historic designation of a property in Westfield could soon come with a tax incentive if the owner is also making improvements to that property, the mayor said.

The town council on Tuesday voted on and referred to the planning board for review a resolution that, should it gain final approval, would declare the entire municipality an “area in need of rehabilitation,” allowing the town to provide the owners of historically designated properties the tax benefit.

The measure, which came on the same night the town council approved a stricter historic preservation law, would allow the town to give owners who improve their properties 5-year tax abatements on the value of improvements made to those properties, Mayor Shelley Brindle said.

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“As a companion to the revised historic preservation ordinance and in response to suggestions we’ve received, we are voting on a resolution that will ultimately enable the town to provide 5-year tax abatements on the value of improvements to historically designated homes,” Brindle said.

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She noted that the town in May approved a similar measure that applied to all properties in Downtown Westfield’s special improvement district, and that throughout the process of approving the revised historic preservation law residents have asked about incentives for historically designating homes.

“I hope that we are able to extend the same benefit that we have given to our downtown property owners to restore their properties to [owners of] historically designated properties,” Brindle said.

The resolution cites as the legal reasoning for the rehabilitation designation that most of the water and sewer infrastructure in the town is at least 50 years old and “in need of repair or substantial maintenance,” and that more than half of the housing stock in the Westfield is at least 50 years old.

A subsequent ordinance to be approved by the council would apply the “area in need of rehabilitation” designation only to homes that are historically designated, she said.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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