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Bloomingdale Tax Deal: 'I Haven't Changed My Mind,' Councilwoman Says

Council votes to introduce ordinance allowing for Payment in Lieu of Taxes program to move forward with luxury apartment complex developer.

In contrast to the hours of heated discussion and comments regarding the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program Bloomingdale had considered entering into with Bloomingdale Urban Renewal, LLC (formerly known as AvalonBay) last year, the re-introduction of the ordinance for the agreement was approved rather quietly Tuesday.

Bloomingdale Urban Renewal is building a 174-unit luxury apartment complex on Union Avenue. Little discussion was had at Tuesday night's council meeting on the agreement, which would grant the borough payments at the same time as taxes are typically paid for the next 30 years. The payments would be made at a minimum of $550,000 per year with the borough retaining 95 percent of the money; the county retaining 5 percent and the school district not receiving money with the exception of a land tax credit. The developer would also be responsible for all garbage and snow plow services, while the borough typically reimburses a complex for those services.

Re-introduction of the ordinance was permissable in the new year after the ordinance died by rejection of the council's Republican majority last year. With two new council members sworn in on Jan. 1, the council majority members are now Democrats.

In 2012, the council heard and saw PowerPoint presentations by Councilman Ray Yazdi about the financial benefits to entering into such an agreement with the developer. Yazdi said the money that would be brought in by the program would exceed the amount the borough would earn through standard taxation and both he and Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy promised taxpayers that the money generated would be used to pay down the borough's debt and eventually stabilize taxes.

Council members took the first step in solidifying that promise Tuesday as they voted unanimously in favor of introducing an accompanying ordinance that pledges all money gained through the PILOT program be used to pay down borough debt. However, the vote on introducing the ordinance for the PILOT, itself, was not unanimously approved, with Republican members Linda Shortman and Mark Conklin voting against the introduction. Shortman, who has been vocal in her opposition of the PILOT in the past, spoke briefly about the issue.

"I haven't really changed my mind and I won't support this motion," she said.

Shortman said she feels it is important for the council to have discussion before voting on issues, but that this issue has been discussed at length.

Dunleavy has described the Bloomingdale Urban Renewal PILOT as opening the door up for more potential redevelopment in the borough. Also Tuesday, the council voted to introduce an ordinance that would hire a firm to perform studies and plans related to redevelopment in New Jersey Highlands designated areas in the borough. Bloomingdale was awarded a $130,000 grant for redevelopment by the New Jersey Highlands Council, Dunleavy said.

"This is the beginning of some great production for our borough," the mayor said.

Dunleavy said the Highlands grant could lead to more PILOT programs, tax abatements and incentives with other developers. He said he is particularly interested in attracting more development to Union Avenue and Main Street. More development would translate to more ratables which Dunleavy said would help the borough further pay down debt and stabilize taxes. As for the Bloomingdale Urban Renewal PILOT, Dunleavy said it would be a "catalyst" for continued development in the area.

A public hearing will be held on the ordinance on Jan. 22, at which time the council could vote to finalize the agreement.

paul bastante January 09, 2013 at 01:22 PM
Oh...she is still not in favor, huh? Ok. Vote your mind linda.
Royta January 09, 2013 at 02:37 PM
One foot out the door and the other on a banana peel.
Kevin January 09, 2013 at 03:30 PM
OH yeah, let us no longer think for ourselves JD is here he will do it all. NOT!!!! I thank Linda for thinking for herself and not voting yes just to vote yes. We do need free thinking individuals, and I do hope that Mike S. can do that.
paul bastante January 09, 2013 at 04:34 PM
I dont begrudge Linda her vote. Just think it is funny that THAT is the story's headline. There is no drama in that headline at all.
Royta January 09, 2013 at 07:20 PM
"she feels it is important for the council to have disussion before voting on issues, but that this issue has been discussed at length". The lengthy discussions and presentations have shown many positives that the project can provide. It has passed muster with the administration, attorney, Board of Ed, and by the results of the last election, an overwhelming majority of the residents. I'm curious to see if the same 2 council people who voted against this last year, but at that time gave no reasons (other than "I don't believe the numbers", or "I don't think it is the right thing for Bloomingdale') have come up with any facts to support their no vote. If there are legitimate reasons to oppose, the plan SHOULD be discussed again.
wendy January 10, 2013 at 02:07 AM
please do not ask the board of education they, continue to employee a person who violated civil rights of disabled child for a very long year and needed the federal Goverment to visit to comply with any part of the law , people like this should never be asked a concern of our comunity, and they continue to have a no access policy for the disabled or elderly at any door even know all the doors were replaced last year along with other expensive updates these are all facts . please only put faith in those you can trust

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