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Back in 2022, the Lakewood Planning Board rejected the Township Committee's efforts to grant long-term tax cuts to new office buildings on Pine Street.

One building has already been developed at 1515 Pine Street. A second building to be constructed at 1510 Pine Street is pending Zoning Board approval. Both buildings are being developed by Yosef Kotler.

Pursuant to an agreement that was arranged with the Township years ago, all buildings constructed in the Cedarbridge Redevelopment area will be entitled to certain benefits including long term tax cuts known as Payments In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT).

Yosef Kotler's office buildings are across Pine Street, outside of the designated Cedarbridge Redevelopment area.

During the construction of 1515 Pine Street, the Township Committee introduced Ordinance 2022-015 which stated that the Governing Body has determined that due to evolving land use conditions it has since become necessary to amend the Redevelopment Plan to include Block 855.01 Lots 19 and 26.01 into the designated redevelopment area and recast these lots as a part of the Cedarbridge Redevelopment Area entitled to all benefits of said designation.

The purpose of this Ordinance was to quietly include Yosef Kotler's new office buildings into the "freebie tax cut zone."

As this is considered a land use amendment ordinance, the Township Committee was legally required to forward the introduced Ordinance to the Planning Board for their review.

At the Planning Board, Mr. Kotler was represented by Attorney Adam Pfeffer Esq. and Planner Christine Cofone.

Ms. Cofone presented to the Board a report that she wrote up in support of the providing the freebie tax cut.

The report stated: The study area is diminutive in size, will not lead to other commercial uses along the roadway, and is essentially a donut hole in the context of surrounding areas.... Importantly, to the south of the study area is a fully developed and built up residential area, and any future redevelopment action on the small study area will not disturb that area.

After a public outcry, the Planning Board rejected the proposal, saying that it's simply unfair to long-standing existing businesses in town who continuously need to compete with new businesses who have received tax cuts and can operate with lower overhang.

Mayor Coles added that "the Committee is dropping the proposal because Cedarbridge Corporate Campus officials have opposed the proposal."

Magically, the Committee is now set to reintroduce the proposal, however, this time around they slyly crafted a way to avoid any pushback from the Planning Board!

At their monthly meeting on Thursday, the Committee is set to introduce Ordinance 2023-026 which will grant a typical 5 year tax abatement to the office building already constructed at 1515 Pine Street.

(5 year tax abatements are structured so in the first year they pay 0%, then an additional 20% each year for the next 4 years.)

In order to be eligible for a tax abatement, property improvements must be located in an Urban Enterprise Zone. Only a portion of the office building lot is situated in the UEZ.

However, as previously reported here on FAA News, to the rescue, the Township has already submitted an application to the State to expand the UEZ Map to include the balance of the lot of this new office building.

(In fact, the LDC even spent money for an engineer to restructure the UEZ map!)

This application to the State remains pending. As such, therefore the granting of the tax abatement will only go into effect if, and when, the State approves the amended UEZ map.

The Township's ordinance states that the new office building "will significantly contribute to the expansion of commerce within the Township and with the eventual increase to the tax base of a substantial ratable; that the construction of these facilities will provide increased job opportunities within the Township; and that the project shall contribute toward the inducement of other projects to locate within the Township, thereby enhancing and improving the economic climate of the Township."


The Ordinance expressly stipulates that this Ordinance is contingent upon the applicant agreeing that should there be any improvements to the property at a later date, that the applicant will not be entitled to tax exemption for the increased taxes resulting from the improvements.

Public records indicate that the new office building is assessed $8,651,300. Without any tax abatement their annual property tax bill would be $216,801.56.

The big catch this time around is that unlike Cedarbridge Plan Amendments which are land use ordinances and required to go to the Planning Board for their review, standard 5 year PILOT's do not require Planning Board approval.


(Ironically, just a few months ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the matter of Kevin Malanga v. Township of West Orange that in order for a municipality to designate property for redevelopment under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, "a municipality must demonstrate that certain specified problems exist with the current site and that they cause actual detriment or harm to the welfare of the community." Hmm... Did any of these factors exist on Pine Street??)

The Township Committee is also set to introduce Ordinance 2023-027 which will grant a 5 year tax abatement to the property at 485 Locust Street.

Public records indicate that that property is assessed $3,307,500. Without any tax abatement their annual property tax bill would be $79,644.60.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Lakewood's Township Committee this past year granted short and long-term tax abatements to 36 new commercial buildings around town. This resulted in a loss of over $5.77 million in tax revenue for this year alone. As a result of all these tax cuts, the Committee is now increasing our taxes nearly $4 million!

The Township Committee is set to introduce both of these ordinances at their regular monthly meeting on Thursday at 5:30pm.

Members of the public may submit public comments on the matter via email to until 11:30am, or to during the meeting.

Members of the public may also comment live during the meeting (which begins at 5:30pm) on the phone by calling (408) 418-9388, Meeting ID# is 2634-502-0366. All participants will be muted upon entry but may participate by using the *3 key on the phone to raise your hand (this will alert the Township that you wish to speak during the meeting).

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, as usual superbly researched and great expose. Talk about a powerful and corrupt family with powerful and corrupt crony politicians in their pocket, with everyone else left to foot the bill.