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Lakewood Township officials are working on multiple fronts to ensure a smooth sailing for Yosef Kotler to receive tax cuts for two office buildings, despite the Planning Board previously rejecting this proposal, and despite there being some annoying red tape at the State level.

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 has already developed an office building at 1515 Pine Street. A second building to be constructed by Yosef Kotler at 1510 Pine Street is pending Zoning Board approval. These 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 building 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 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 strongly 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, as previously reported here on FAA News, the Committee last month reintroduced the proposal, however, this time around they slyly crafted a way to avoid any pushback from the Planning Board!

The Committee introduced 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.)

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.

Voilà! No more headaches from needing to deal with the Planning Board's "meddling" with their grand plans!

(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??)

This Thursday, the Committee is set to adopt the Ordinance on final reading. Members of the public may submit public comments on the matter via email to until 11:30am, or to during the meeting which begins at 5:30pm.

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).

However, this is not the final step in the process of this tax abatement.

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.

Thankfully, 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!)

However, the application to the State to formally adopt the new zone boundary map remains pending because the state officially requires municipalities to submit a 5-year plan to approve boundary changes and Lakewood did not yet submit this plan because, James Simmons, the former State UEZ Director, was kind enough to waive a lot of red tape and the Township's UEZ staff were hopeful that the new State UEZ Director James Slaughter would take the same lenient approach and permit Lakewood to proceed with boundary modification even without submitting a 5-year plan.

At this point, it is clear that the new State UEZ Director is not as nice as his predecessor and he is indeed requiring Lakewood to submit a 5-year plan in order to get the new boundaries map approved.

Apparently super eager to get Yosef Kotler his tax cuts, at a special meeting held this Tuesday, the Lakewood Development Corporation awarded a contract to Triad Associates of Vineland to develop the important 5-year plan. This contract is for an amount not to exceed $25,000. (Hey, what's a few taxpayer dollars when an important friend needs his tax cut). The timeline until final approval by the state is 6-9 months.

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.

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!

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Anonymous said...

Free taxes for some , yet Lakewood tax payers are giving a loan for private bussing .

Anonymous said...

Keep voting for VAAD recommendations, as they have your back, just like Biden has Israels' Back.

Chaim Kleinman said...


It's super weird that Ms. Cofone previously asserted that "the study area is diminutive in size, [and] will not lead to other commercial uses along the roadway," as already, here we are with yet another application just next door - from the very same developer!