Mayor Dale unveils development plan



West Milford. Mayor Michele Dale recently unveiled a plan to work with the Highlands Council in order to bring more business into the township.
Dale unveiled the plan during a recent Township Council meeting.
According to the plan, which seeks to increase the number of businesses in the community within the restrictions of the Highlands Council, an estimated $92 million in new ratables would need to come into the township in order to decrease the average property tax of around $9,900 by $1,000.
Dale pointed out that the largest number of taxpayers fall below the town’s average assessment of $242,000.
The Highlands Council was developed to protect the watershed in the region which feeds Newark and bigger cities.
The regulations, however, severely restrict development in the protected area, which includes all of West Milford.
Dale said the plan she wants to implement would take a different tack than simply being adversarial with the council, and would instead seek a way to work within the restrictions that will still see the community grow over the long term.
Her plan would use Highlands Council funding to study several economic aspects of the community including what types of businesses would be allowed and what types of businesses the residents want.
In addition to this information, the study would also compile a business inventory.
Dale said this information would be helpful to realtors and commercial property owners as they shop their holdings to potential businesses.
She said the study could cost around $50,000, but that would be paid in cooperation with the Highlands Council and would not cost local taxpayers anything.
Council members including Peter McGuiness and Lou Signorino said they supported the study as long as it is free for the township to conduct.
Both also said that parts of Dale’s plan had been tried in the past, but on a more “piecemeal” basis.
Dale said she wants the study to be completed and presented to the governing body and public by the end of the year.