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PILOT Program Could Be Stifled By Ordinance Repeal

Bloomingdale Council majority may vote to repeal redevelopment zone ordinance that permits Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for AvalonBay.

In what Bloomingdale Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy has labeled as the council majority's "last shot against Bloomingdale," the Republican majority may vote Tuesday to repeal the ordinance that classifies the AvalonBay site as a redevelopment zone and allows a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program to be offered for the luxury apartment developer.

If the ordinance is repealed, a redevelopment zone would once again need to be approved before disucssion on entering into a PILOT agreement could be put back on the table for the under-construction development that is bringing 174 apartment rental units to the borough.

"In their lame duck session, [the council majority] just can't bow out gracefully, as they must take one last shot against Bloomingdale," Dunleavy, a Democrat, said in an email. "How do these people sleep at night?"

The negotiated PILOT program would grant the borough a minimum payment of $550,000 per year, expected to grow by at least 2 percent each year, for 30 years. AvalonBay would make quarterly payments at the same time that residents and business owners pay taxes, but would not pay normal taxation, which is split between the municipality, county and school district. Through the PILOT program, the school district would not receive money from the payments, but the municipality would recoup the bulk of the benefit, bringing in 95 percent of the money while the county receives 5 percent.

Republican Councilwoman Linda Shortman said she did not recommend the ordinance repeal item be placed on Tuesday's council meeting agenda, but she does agree that perhaps the redevelopment zone ordinance, approved by the council in September, should be repealed.

"In hindsight, after the ordinance passed and I supported it and after I read about the PILOT and I knew what the conditions were about the PILOT is when I decided that this was not appropriate for this piece of property," Shortman said.

Shortman said she now feels she should not have supported the redevelopment zone ordinance at the time and that the ordinance to repeal it may solidify her position at this point. She said Councilwoman Jo-Ann Pituch may have recommended the ordinance for the agenda.

Pituch said Wednesday she did not wish to comment on the ordinance until after Tuesday's meeting.

Dunleavy said that if the ordinance were repealed and the borough were to start the process again, taxpayers would have to foot the bill of the planning and design work needed to move ahead. He also said he felt Bloomingdale voters proved they were in favor of the PILOT program by two newcomer Democrats, to the council earlier this month. Republican Pituch was unseated.

"I'm angry, it's terrible. It's absolutely going against what the voters wanted," Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy said he will encourage the public to speak on the repealing ordinance and also inquire about who authored the ordinance that may be introduced Tuesday. If the ordinance is passed on final adoption by the end of this year, he said the ordinance approving the redevelopment zone again could be reintroduced next year.

But Shortman, who will remain one of two Republicans on the council in the new year, alongside Mark Conklin, does not favor the redevelopment zone for AvalonBay.

"I just don't support this particular site for this particular ordinance," she said.

Rich Dellaripa November 26, 2012 at 11:47 PM
I'm looking at what's on lis.njleg.state.nju.us, and 40A:12-5 c says "and that is owned by the municipality, the county, a local housing authority, redevelopment agency or redevelopment entity, or unimproved vacant land that has remained so for a period of ten years prior to adoption of the resolution..." etc. I don't see "blighted" in that. Where are you seeing a version that has it?
Rich Dellaripa November 27, 2012 at 12:18 PM
But the issue with the ordinance on the agenda isn't about whether the PILOT is a good thing or a bad thing; it's basically telling the Planning Board "No, you did your job wrong".
Sally Fane November 27, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I am confident that Ms. Shortman will consider that passing this ordinance will result in more expenses and higher taxes for the people of Bloomingdale, which goes against everything she's been saying for the last year about cutting costs and saving money. No one can deny that, come January, Mayor Dunleavy and the majority on the town council will continue to pursue the PILOT. The people of Bloomingdale have spoken, we want the PILOT, their refusal to accept it and their attempt to block it is childish. They are trying to position the Dems as the bad guys because they will have to vote to start the process over and therefore respend the money. I hope Ms. Shortman thinks long and hard about this decision, or I, for one, will lose all respect for her.
Kristen November 27, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Or No we do not agree with your conclusion.
Carolyn November 27, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Well said, Sally. The Shortman I once knew was better than to engage in something that smacks of vindictiveness or bitterness. She campaigned on cutting costs and has said so at every meeting. The landslide election shows what the town wants and WILL do. It would be willful, wasteful and without purpose to set the town back to square one and cost us so much money. In third world countries we have rulers who impose their personal will on the majority. The Council members were not elected to fulfill their own personal wishes or even Kristen's wishes. It is the majority's wishes that must be heard in any Democracy.. Here, in a Republican town, that went for the Republican Presidential candidate, the majority resoundingly rejected the ideas of Pituch. I can't believe any Council member with a brain, or who cares about the town would have any justification for ignoring that fact.

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