The good news for residents is that the West Milford Shopping Center in Hewitt, where the A&P was an anchor store, will be a Pilot Redevelopment Project.
Through it, law allows the township to benefit with stabilized tax revenue through a negotiated business agreement.
Aware that law provides certain tools available to the township with respect to undertaking redevelopment as a way to encourage improvement of an area, while at the same time benefiting the township, Mayor Michele Dale and the Council took a number of initial steps.
First, the Township Planner performed a study at the direction of the Planning Board and determined that the shopping center qualified as being an area in need of redevelopment. That designation was adopted by the governing body.
Thereafter, the township negotiated a financial agreement where the township would benefit with stabilized tax revenue with respect to the project. As a result of the agreement, the tax payment structure would be changed so that much of the revenue generated from the project would be directed toward the township as opposed to Passaic County and the West Milford Board of Education since both of those entities are not impacted by the commercial development.
“Based on the agreement that was negotiated, the township’s ratable for this project will increase from approximately $93,000 annually to $310,000. This is a 15-year agreement whereby by the end of the term, the project will pay over almost $430,000 per year to the Township of West Milford for an improved facility and one which contributed about $93,000 a year to the township ratable base,” said Township Attorney Fred Semrau. “That amounts to over $3 million over 15 years to the township in tax relief.”
He also said that on an annual basis, the township will be reimbursed approximately $7,000 to $10,000 for the administration of the Pilot.
“Moreover, this Pilot provides that the township will not be subject to tax appeals,” Semrau said. This is a payment obligation by the property owner and one which the payment increases 2.5 percent per year, even if the township budget only increases 1.5 percent per year.”
Dale said this is one of the few tools the township may utilize to encourage redevelopment and benefit the municipal budget.
If the shopping center were to expand and increase the size of the actual improvements, the township would be able to renegotiate this agreement.