At its most recent meeting, Cherry Hill Township Council approved, upon second and final reading, an ordinance granting a five-year phase-in, payment-in-lieu-of-taxes to a local company for a project concerning the Park Boulevard Gateway Redevelopment Area.
FMP CH Park, LLC, the owners and developers of the property, applied for the tax exemption under a provision in state law that allows for a tax abatement on properties intended for redevelopment if they are designated areas in need of rehabilitation.
The site intended for renewal includes two parcels of land resting between Route 70 and Park Boulevard. The former exists on an irregularly-shaped plot between the highway and Park, west of Donahue Avenue. The latter comprises a rectangular area squashed between Park to the south, an unnamed street to the north and bounded by Donahue to the west and Hoffman Avenue to the east. A derelict motel and disused church also stand on the soon-to-be-redeveloped land.
The redevelopment itself involves construction of 192 new residential units: three- and four-story apartments, along with three-story townhomes with a mixture of surface and garage parking, as well as courtyard areas designed for a wide variety of uses by tenants.
Meeting mainstay Anne Einhorn again pleaded with council to strongly consider devoting a portion of PILOT gains to the Cherry Hill school system. Resident Rena Margulis then expressed concerns over the township’s tax collection amount from the PILOT, possibly being lower than what it received from the derelict properties on the plots of land that are targeted for rehabilitation.
“I just wanted to make sure I understand, that once they put in 192-unit development, three-and four-stories with views overlooking the river, they would not be paying less than what was paid by the derelict motel and the derelict church. Council is voting and they don’t even have an estimate of what financial effect would be of this PILOT?” Margulis asked of council.
Township solicitor Robert N. Wright chimed in, telling Margulis and the public that the Park Boulevard area in question was deemed an area in need of redevelopment, and the developers are entitled to a 30-year, long-term tax exemption. However, Wright continued, the township was more invested in agreeing to a short-term tax exemption for five years.
“This is a redevelopment area, so in order to subsidize it and come in and redevelop the land, that’s the purpose of the redevelopment statute, which allows for these types of powers. It’s the incentive to get someone to come in and actually redevelop that property. So, by year five, you’re receiving taxes in perpetuity, hopefully, that you would not have normally received had you not utilized the redevelopment law,” added Mayor’s Chief of Staff Erin Patterson Gill.
Mayor Chuck Cahn confirmed that the PILOT program would cover the entirety of the property, other than the actual land on which the redevelopment will take place. He also admonished Margulis’ perceived short-term issue with the PILOT, saying the township would not have seen any tax revenue from the land had it not provided the possibility of the PILOT with the land’s developer.
Cahn additionally stated that installment of the PILOT itself would mean increased tax revenue based on the value of the intended properties over the next 15, 20, 30 years.
‘When we look at the view long term, we think this is a huge benefit, much more than five years, for the schools, for the county and for all of us,” Cahn concluded.
In other news:
- Council honored Cherry Hill High School East 2019 graduate Sophia Liang, who was chosen as a Presidential Scholar, one of just 161 students selected in the United States. Winners of the honor are based upon excellence both inside and outside the classroom. Liang also scored a perfect 1600 on her SATs. As such, July 22 was officially proclaimed “Sophia Liang Day” in Cherry Hill.
- Greg Bruno, a former township council nominee and current president of the Erlton North/Windsor Civic Association, was appointed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.