The Harrison Township Committee has adopted an ordinance that amends a 2018 payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with Naples at the Warehouse Restaurant.
According to Mayor Louis Manzo, the agreement helped the restaurant obtain a liquor license to add a bar and is part of a tax incentive program the township has in place for the township’s historic Main Street district.
“This program calls for a ‘tax abatement’ of sorts, for property owners who make substantial investments in renovating historic properties on Main Street and or change the use of a residential property to a new, desirable commercial or retail use,” Manzo explained.
“Whatever their taxes would have been on their improvements, their PILOT agreement is going to give them a 15% reduction.”
The tax incentive program focuses on businesses in existing structures that invest a large amount of money in the township. As in the case of Naples at the Warehouse, according to Manzo, the township want merchants to “rejuvenate, renovate or improve” parts of Main Street.
“The impact on the community is an aesthetic value improvement,” the mayor noted. “Because whatever the building was, it’s now going to look better. So, there’s an impact on the community for that and it enhances our entire Main Street and its charm and all that.”
Naples was the first business to fall under the program and other businesses on Main Street followed suit, including blueplate restaurant, The Tasting Room and Marmo Homes.
“As the program evolved, we used a higher percentage abatement in the latter three projects,” Manzo said. “So this ordinance amended the Naples agreement, bringing their percentage abatement up to the level of the other three projects.”
Before adoption of the ordinance, first introduced at a Jan. 2 committee meeting, members spent an hour deliberating.
“The lengthy discussion last night was really more related to the program’s process and standards in general than it was to this particular ordinance,” Manzo noted. “That discussion included thoughts about how to better market this successful program and make more people aware of it, etcetera.
“It was also the first township committee meeting for new Committeeman Kevin French, who was not involved in these past PILOT projects, which is why he spearheaded much of that conversation,” Manzo added.
A public hearing on the ordinance was held, but no resident questioned it. The next township committee session is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m.