Township answers tax concerns on blueplate

A resident spoke during an ordinance's public hearing to receive more information on how it affects the blueplate restaurant and the use of taxes.

Mayor Louis Manzo clarified a real estate concern from a resident about taxes and funding at the July 1 committee meeting.

Resident Mike Moore spoke during the public hearing of an ordinance that approved a redevelopment plan for blueplate restaurant. Last summer, the restaurant sustained extensive damage because of a fire.

“Three years ago, we had the entire historic district in a designated area of redevelopment,” Manzo said. “The reason we did that was so that we can offer tax incentives to individuals who come in and repurpose buildings that are dilapidated or need help, and it could be for residential use or it could be for something else.

Township solicitor Brian Duffield said the redevelopment zone is for the entirety of Main Street that falls within the historic district.

Manzo provided an example of a property worth $200,000, getting $100,000 in renovations to bring the value up to $300,000. He added the township can only do an abatement – a reduction of taxes – on improvements in accordance with state law.

In my example, on a $100,000 improvement, that’s about $3,000 a year in new taxes,” he said. “The first year, we can abate 100 percent of it, second year 80 percent, and so on. It’s something, but it’s not a major incentive for somebody coming in with a couple hundred thousand dollars into a property.

In relation to blueplate, Manzo said the owner went through insurance to claim money to restore the restaurant back to what it was prior to the fire, but the owner wants to do more additions. The owner, he added, is willing to finance some of it by his own means, and asked the township for help in funding.

They come up with a list that states how much something costs to be done,” Manzo said in reference to a construction company the owner contracted for the work. “He has to show us how much, exactly, it will cost to do outside improvements. Exterior only because that’s what the benefit to the town is. We decide what portion of that we’re willing to finance on the backend or in some cases on the front end.

No definite numbers were provided as Manzo and Duffield couldn’t recall the exact amount at the time.

Manzo added every property in the district along Main Street is provided with that opportunity and the township will work something out, “depending on the project and its benefit to the community.”

Moore further inquired if blueplate will receive tax dollars from the township or tax credits. Manzo said “yes” to the latter.

Whatever the new assessment will be for blueplate, we’ll come back to a [Payment In Lieu of Taxes] agreement instead of traditional taxes, and we’ll reduce it to a certain amount over a certain period of time,” Manzo said.

The reduction, Manzo clarified, will allow for the township to collect roughly four times the amount of taxes paid if they went through a standard tax plan. On regular properties, the township collects 15 percent of all taxes paid.

He added if the owner sought to do the outdoor renovations regardless of a fire, the township would seek to do the same thing, within reason.

The actual fire has nothing to do with it,” Manzo said. “The money he’s getting to replace it, will bring it back to what it was. We’re contributing to the better outdoor version.

In other news:

  • Resident Stephen Houpt suggested the township to look into requiring a dog park licensing fee to offset costs.
  • Houpt also asked if the township will be reappropriating $2,040,000 from other departments to capital improvements. Manzo said the money was set aside years ago to purchase a property on Swedeboro Road, however, the sale was never finalized. The township, Manzo added, could use the money for other real estate (land) purchases.
  • AEDs are installed at William Wilt and Ella Harris parks. Pleasant Valley is pending for a safe, secure structure. Sport organizations’ coaches will soon receive training on how to operate the devices, and the fire department agreed to carry out the inspections.
  • The township will be seeking to apply for an NJDOT road grant and a bike path grant. Where the township seeks to use the NJDOT grant is unknown. The committee hopes to apply the bike path grant to an extension of the county’s approved path.
  • Ground is expected to break soon at the new Dunkin’ located near CVS and Clearview Regional.
  • A new face was added to the township’s clerk office as Lawrence Moore, of Harmony Fire Company, was hired to fill the role of deputy clerk.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for July 15, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Courtroom (114 Bridgeton Pike).