Speculation on the impact Medford Crossings will have on the township has been running rampant in recent months, fueled in large part by false claims, misrepresentations and innuendo generated by a vocal minority trying to forcibly speak for the community at large.
Medford residents are entitled to all of the facts before formulating an opinion on the proposed development. They have been fed doomsday assertions about the financial risks associated with the project, which are inaccurate and appear to be intentionally so, and which conveniently leave out the consequences connected with the development not moving forward, including $60 million in township exposure to the current property owner.
The propaganda also fails to point out that a plan for a mixed-use development similar in size and scope to the one proposed by Lennar was approved in 2006, meaning the property will be developed, either by Lennar or another party.
It’s time to start separating claims from the truth. It’s time to provide Medford residents with the whole story.
Here are some facts:
MYTH: The Township will be obligated to bond the full $35 million upon the commencement of the development.
FACT: The Township’s bonding obligation is tied to the tax revenue generated by the project. If the tax revenue generated is not enough to carry the bond interest expense, the township is not obligated to bond. The year one projection for township bonding is $11.5 million. This amount is projected to be bonded at the end of the year after Lennar has expended significant dollars to start development of the project. Therefore, it is not “A Bridge to No Where” as the Township’s bond obligation follows the generation of tax revenue. In addition, the Township will receive a $1.5 million roll-back tax payment and a $1.5 million developer payment from Lennar upon the commencement of the project prior to the Township’s issuance of any bonds.
MYTH: The PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program being discussed will only yield $2.9 million for the benefit of taxpayers in 2015, while conventional taxes would yield $4.8 million.
FACT: The proposed PILOT program stipulates that it will always generate at least 94 percent of what would be achieved through conventional taxes.
MYTH: The 2015 PILOT program only gives $816,000 to schools.
FACT: Council has the flexibility to allocate the funds as they deem appropriate, meaning there is no limit to the amount of dollars that can go to the schools.
MYTH: Approving the deal will only allow the township to address its immediate short-term budget deficit, which can be achieved in part through the approval of the April 27th tax increase referendum.
FACT: The Lennar proposal will provide a 30-year PILOT payment to the township which will allow it to receive substantially more money than it would under local purpose taxes and still accommodate school funding concerns. The April 27 referendum assumes that there will be no benefit from development on the site in 2011. Since the township budget had to be introduced by April 8, this assumption was required. However, with the 2006 mixed-used development proposal already approved, there is a virtual guarantee that the property will be developed in some fashion. Medford Crossings will bring good long-term benefits to the town for many years.
Lennar is willing to discuss with Medford Township all reasonable alternatives in getting this project off the ground.
We at Lennar wish to thank you all for your time and support of the truth. We will continue to speak out to correct additional misinformation intended to mislead the public.