Saturday, February 11, 2017

New Development Ordinances Come to City Council

Mayor Adrian Mapp and his administrative team have proposed  new tools for Plainfield's redevelopment arsenal.  The Council will vote on second reading on Monday night on the following:

1. a redevelopment plan for North Ave around the Netherwood Station.  This plan will set standards for what the city wants from developers.  The plan covers North Ave between Leland  and Berkman Avenues, mostly on the train tracks side of the street. This is where a long row of mostly vacant factory buildings has gradually deteriorated for decades.  This is part of the Netherwood transit village vision for mixed use residential living and commercial uses.

2. a proposal to make Plainfield's Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) an area in need of rehabilitation.

3. a proposal to update Plainfield's 5 year tax abatement ordinance to spur investment for improvements to the mostly vacant and dilapidated upper floors of buildings in our downtown that are now only used for first floor retail.  The UEZ also covers East 2nd Street and South Second Street, underutilized commercially zoned areas in our First and Fourth wards that need incentives for revitalization. 
     buildings in need of improvement near the downtown station

The second and third ordinances mentioned above are tied together in that tax abatements are generally allowable only in areas of New Jersey declared in need of rehabilitation or redevelopment.

An objection was made at the last Council meeting on the grounds that when we give tax breaks, the Plainfield is losing revenues and that has to be made up by increasing homeowners' property taxes.  Actually the opposite is true.  Under the 5 year tax abatement ordinance, the base property assessment is still taxed at the going rate.  It's only the improvements that are not taxed for the 5 year period and after that the taxes will go up based on the value of the new improvements.  A good deal for Plainfield, especially considering that many properties in the UEZ are deteriorated and have not been maintained or improved for many years.

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