Wednesday, March 18, 2015

TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE ARROGANCE SHOWS IN PROJECT TAX BREAK APPROVALS

The Township Committee's lack of insight, or perhaps increase in arrogance, seems stronger than ever as the wave of opposition to the former Maplewood Village Post Office site project grows and grows.

And the TC doesn't seem to care.

That ignorance of opposition rose again Tuesday night as the TC approved on first reading the tax exemption for the planned retail/housing mix being developed by JMF Properties -- an exemption that will allow JMF to pay just a portion of taxes for five years. The exemption was approved, 4-1, with TC member India Larrier voting no.

The TC also approved on final passage a similar exemption over 30 years for the larger development planned for the former PSE&G site on Boyden Avenue. It was approved, 5-0

During public comment, several residents rose and spoke out against the plans, including former Township Committee member David Huemer who criticized the post office site tax exemption.

"You're going to give them a $325,000 tax break over five years," said Huemer, later adding, "the developer does not need a $325,000 tax break and it reduces the value of the township." He later called it "a terrible mistake" and "incomprehensible."

Huemer was followed by others who showed concern for the exemption, as well as the ugly design of the Village site, in one case prompting belittling comments from the TC and an apparent annoyance at being questioned on this major project.

Mayor Vic DeLuca, whose general approach we usually support, appears more interested in getting this project done under his administration than listening to the overwhelming number of residents who seem to oppose it.

He even offered his own snide comments in reaction to some of the concerns, telling Huemer that the taxes that will be generated -- although lower than they should be due to the exemption -- do things like support the library, which he told Huemer is expected to be increased in the upcoming budget by $137,000: "I know you're a fierce advocate for funding public services; well that funding comes from someplace."

The reasons for objections range from the ugliness and over-modern approach of the design to the size of the 20-unit, three-story building to the fears of the kinds of retail shops it may bring in.

The giveaway tax breaks are bad enough, but the speed with which the designs are being approved and supported by the governing body draw further angst from residents who value Maplewood Village as the gem of our township.

Add to that the continued complaints that neither project has enough "green" efforts such as solar and alternative energies, and the TC's blind support is offensive.

Even those who usually support the great work the TC does on most issues are voicing their frustration and irritation in discussion with us in recent weeks. The anger borders on exasperation that the TC would push for such an objectionable project for no apparent reason.

Longtime residents may remember the last time De Luca and Jerry Ryan angered residents with the revaluation rammed through in 1999, that cost them their TC seats. They should be careful that their arrogance on this issue does not do the same or voters may rebel again.

4 comments:

Dave Helmkamp said...

Thanks Joe; and here I was thinking it was just me. A lot of arrogance for sure. It's the combination of insisting on dictating the process, the determination to keep the public uninformed, and the lack any financial analysis that makes this such an astonishing package. "Beyond the pale", as my great-aunt would have said. So don't forget: www.ohno60.info. At the ballot box or elsewhere, we will make this right!

Anonymous said...

Is that guy Frank from MOL mentally challenged? Check out the drivel he's trying to spit out. Moron.

Olive B., Maplewood, NJ said...

I would like to see the drawings of the new building BEFORE the TC signs ANY contracts. We the taxpayers are the owners of this site - so why the secrets? This is not open government! This is absolute arrogance and is shameful. And this does not reflect who and what Maplewood represents.
Shouldn't we all be looking at this and deciding what direction to go in? Should we build something new or reuse the Post Office building? I am in favor of reusing the Post Office building - it is the right scale for the village. But if I am presented with adequate information, both financial analysis in both directions and actual images of a new building, maybe I could be persuaded in the other direction...maybe not...Show me!

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