WESTFIELD, NJ ­— Owners in the town’s special improvement district who choose to improve their properties won’t be immediately saddled with an increased tax assessment under a plan approved by the Town Council.

The town council on Tuesday designated the town’s special improvement district, or SID, an “area in need of rehabilitation” — a designation that provides tax abatements of up to 5 years for owners making improvements to their properties.

“This designation is a separate but complementary effort to our recent resolutions studying our municipal lots, the Lord & Taylor site, and the Rialto property as areas in need of redevelopment,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle at Tuesday’s virtual council meeting.

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Council members approved the measure 9-0.

Brindle cited Metuchen and South Orange as other municipalities which have created areas in need of rehabilitation as a means to incentivize owners to improve their properties. Other municipalities in New Jersey to designate or consider designation of areas in need of rehabilitation also include Union TownshipCaldwell Borough and Red Bank.

The designation, she said, allows owners who improve their properties to be taxed on the value of the property as it was prior to the improvements being made for up five years after those improvements happen.

While officials started the redevelopment process prior to COVID-19 hitting New Jersey, Brindle said, the pandemic underscores the need for the effort.

“More than ever these types of redevelopment designations will be more critical to getting them back on their feet,” Brindle said.

The council will next be tasked with approving the specifics of the tax abatement plan.

Town Planner Donald Sammet said he can have a resolution ready for the next meeting of the town council.

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