Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Saving taxpayers a whopping $4,111,602.

NJ News & Views
Taxpayers in New Jersey's fastest-growing municipality have an unlikely hero.

Thanks to objections raised by the Shore Builders Association of Central New Jersey, a Lakewood-based organization representing the interests of real estate developers, taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief. A proposed ordinance is dead that would have exempted the township's most influential government lobbyist from paying a fair share contribution towards Cedarbridge Town Center off-tract road improvements, and would have instead shifted that obligation to taxpayers.


Cedarbridge Town Center includes the town's stadium, FirstEnergy Park; the Cedarbridge Corporate Park; and the former location of Tent City, a shanty town where Lakewood's homeless lived as a community.


Lakewood Mayor Menashe Miller officially pronounced the ordinance dead at the April 14, 2016 meeting of the Lakewood Township Committee.

The savings to taxpayers is a whopping $4,111,602.

The point may be moot.

According to Committeeman Raymond Coles, speaking at the March 3 meeting of the Lakewood Township Committee, Lakewood has yet to collect a penny from developers of projects located in either of its' two Transportation Improvement Districts (TID).

Deputy Mayor Aisik (Albert/Isaac) Akerman said at the same meeting that the state must approve collection of an impact fee before the township can collect it.

In an April 20 e-mail request for comment, a reporter for NJ News & Views asked Akerman if the committee had asked state officials for the required approval to collect development impact fees for the shared cost of road improvements. If so, the reporter wanted to know, officials of which state department?

If not, the reporter asked, why hadn't the committee requested the required permission since adoption of the ordinance in 2014?

Akerman did not respond for comment.

Neither did Coles.

Mayor Menashe Miller, who was absent during the March 3 committee meeting, did respond for comment.

Miller said he did not know anything about it.

He has good reason not to.

According to township minutes for the October 23, 2014 committee meeting, when committeemen introduced Ordinance 2014-85, Miller left early due to an announced prior commitment, just before the scheduled ordinances for first reading.

Akerman also left early, following the meeting's presentations.

The November 6, 2014 committee minutes report that Miller left the meeting just prior to the committee vote on ordinances scheduled for second reading, which included Ordinance 2014-85.

Although Miller was absent for the committee vote, Deputy Mayor Akerman and Committeemen Coles, Marc (Meir) Lichtenstein and Steven Langert approved adoption of Ordinance 2014-85 on second reading.

The ordinance established the township's Transportation Improvement Districts (TID), as well as the pro rata share of TID impact fees to be collected from developers applying for approval within each district.

Although the 2014 ordinance identified two Transportation Improvement Districts, an attached map, drawn by T&M Associates, which was included with both the 2014 and 2016 ordinances, depicted six.lak_6_tid_map_-_4.28.16.pdf

TID 1 is bounded by Route 9 to the east, Watering Place Brook to the north, and the township's municipal boundary to the east and south. TID 2 is bounded by Route 9 to the west, New Hampshire Avenue (County Road 623) to the east, Lake Shenandoah County Park and the Metedeconk Recreation Area to the north, and the township's municipal boundary to the south.

In an April 29, 2016 e-mail response for comment, T&M Supervising Planner Martin Truscott provided a reason why the TID map identified six districts, but the 2014 ordinance only identified two.

"With regard to your question concerning the identification of other districts on Exhibit One, the other districts are identified for mapping purposes only," Truscott told NJ News & Views. "The above referenced plan relates only to districts 1 and 2."

The 2014 ordinance stated that improvements to be made within the TID may include, but are not limited to the construction or reconstruction of new or existing streets, right-of-way, acquisition, engineering, and other associated street and traffic improvements, such as street widening, alignment, channelization of intersections, construction of barriers, new or improved traffic signalization, signs, curbs, sidewalks, street drainage, road culverts, lighting, landscaping, utility relocation and the like.

According to the ordinance, the purpose of the TID impact fee was to satisfy the developer's proportionate and pro-rata contribution to the cost of reasonable and necessary off-tract road improvements necessitated by new development.

Developers of projects located within each TID are required to enter into an agreement with the township and Ocean County, where ingress or egress from a county roadway is involved.

The ordinance stated that one of the goals in establishing Transportation Improvement Districts was to encourage development that is compatible with and, whenever possible, carries out the land use and circulation objectives of the Lakewood Township Master Plan and other regional planning incentives that match the township's community goals.

"It is the intent of this subsection to effectuate its' terms consistent with the goals and objectives of the County of Ocean and the agencies of the State of New Jersey through policy and project agreements now or hereafter formulated or consumated," the ordinance said.

Two months ago, the New Jersey State Department rewarded Lakewood for achieving that goal by granting the township conditional Plan Endorsement, which required submission of an updated Master Plan and a Smart Growth Plan that required a public hearing and discussion before adoption.

State approval of Lakewood Plan Endorsement may have been premature, based on a 2016 revised impact fee schedule proposed by township committeemen.

According to the 2014 ordinance's Cost Share Analysis Summary, the fair share contribution schedule, computed by township engineering professionals, called for developers in TID 1 to pay the following transportation impact fees: lak_tid_2014_table_-_4.23.16.pdf

1.) Cross/Prospect Street Core developers will pay $2,076,561, based on an average of 1,301 trips, at a cost per trip of $1,596;

2.) Route 9 Highway Core developers will pay $387,344, based on an average of 156 trips, at a cost per trip of $2,480; and

3.) James/Prospect Street Industrial Park (West) developers will pay $161,475, based on an average of 83 trips, at a cost per trip of $1,950.

The TID 1 Balance of Township will be $1,291,416, based on an average of 787 trips, at a cost per trip of $1,641.

Developers in TID 2 called for developers to pay the following transportation impact fees:

1.) Cedarbridge Town Center developers will pay $4,111,602, based on an average of 1,208 trips, at a cost per trip of $3,403;

2.) Oak Street Core developers will pay $5,646,528, based on an average of 1,435 trips, at a cost per trip of $3,935;

3.) Route 70 Highway Core developers will pay $1,384,652, based on an average of 556 trips, at a cost per trip of $2,489; and

4.) Route 9 Highway Core developers will pay $465,046, based on an average of 183 trips, at a cost of $2,538.

The TID 2 Balance of Township will be $1,324,780, based on an average of 431 trips, at a cost of $3,076.

The Public Share will be $4,314, 598.

Township engineers estimated that Lakewood would realize a total of $21,164,000 in impact fees, based on a total average of 6,140 trips generated.

That total did not change in the amended ordinance introduced by the committee in 2016. However, the revised schedule of impact fees eliminated Cedarbridge Town Center altogether. The Cedarbridge Town Center impact fee of $4,111,602 instead was added to the TID 2 public share of $4,314,598, nearly doubling it to $8,426,200.
In his April 29, 2016 e-mail response for comment, Truscott a more legible copy of the revised schedule of TID impact fees included with the amended 2016 ordinance
The T&M document stated that intersections with state Highways 9 and 70 in the study are not within the jurisdiction of Lakewood Township to approve for collection impact fees in the two TID since they are under the jurisdiction of the N.J. Department of Transportation (DOT). As a result, T&M advised Lakewood officials, the township is required to ask the DOT for approval.

A reporter asked a spokesperson by e-mail if Lakewood officials had requested such approval.

The DOT did not respond for comment.

In the absence of any action by local government to seek the required state approval, Lakewood developers have a reprieve from any financial responsibility for off-tract road improvements not mandated by town development boards, county planners or the state DOT.

The Cedarbridge Town Center, where limited liability corporations owned by Ocean Care Realty LLC and Erez Holdings LLC are building commercial projects in the township's TID 2 corporate park, is bounded by Pine Street, a township road, as well as New Hampshire Avenue (County Highway 623).
Read more at NJ News& Views

7 comments:

  1. Harold herskowitzMay 24, 2016 at 4:29 AM

    This just shows that the best interests for our town are ignored for a few powerful people.
    I have tried unsuccessfully to get the state to fix the markings on Route 9 to show that you can make a left turn on to third street. They recently restriped the road and once again put the wrong markings not showing the legal left turn onto the two way street. There have been numerous accidents because of the confusion. Nobody from our local government cares and nobody from the county needs to listen unless certain people call. That is my own personal experience of how uncaring our Township is unless certain people show an interest. The UEZ is busy working to benefit one specific development that is not in the best interest of local businesses. The Blue claws were given a sweetheart deal and are given free reign to inconvenience our town with rock festivals. People with insanely inappropriate building projects that need a multitude of variances, sail through the building approval process, while other projects proposed according to all zoning laws are rejected and forced to appeal. Something is very wrong here and all roads lead to the person facilitating all of this corruption. His name is Menashe Miller and he should be recalled for his own good and ours.

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    1. Why does the UEZ care so much about the airport, any insight into that?

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  2. LTC got a $25 million grant to build in Lakewood.

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  3. Harold herskowitzMay 24, 2016 at 11:50 AM

    And what is that grant being used for? The good of the people? For as large a cross section towards the greater good of this town? No. I am sure it is going to be divided up among a few well connected individuals and will be used in a way that will hurt the "little" people. What a shame

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    1. LTC Consulting Services, a Howell-based medical billing and business management firm, was approved for a 10-year, $24.5 million Grow New Jersey award for its plans to construct a new facility in Lakewood that would retain 227 jobs and create another 250 positions. The company is also considering a site in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The state estimates the net benefit of the project to be $53 million over 20 years.

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    2. State money, not Lakewood Money. They wouldn't have moved to Lancaster, but if they didn't get it, some other company that would have threatened to move would have.

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  4. harold herskowitzMay 24, 2016 at 2:31 PM

    I just want to point out a paragraph from Nj news and views on this subject.

    "In 2013, Lakewood residents Yehuda Shain and Joseph DeFalco asked an Appellate Court to remand their 2010 lawsuit back to state Superior Court for a new ruling on their request to void the Option Agreement, based on the failure of Cedarbridge Development LLC to develop any tax ratables in the corporate park within the original 7-year time limit. The appeal is still pending."
    While I was asked to join this lawsuit and I considered doing so, I never actually did, yet you still insist on making it seem that I sued my alma mater, BMG. I would appreciate all those that need to make me into some evil contrarian rebel, to please stop making up lies in order to further your selfish agendas. We all know that you planned to benefit personally from Cedarbridge , and the profits will not go to the yungerleit in BMG. Please stop using me as a scapegoat that you can hide behind. I dont want to name people, but none of you are busy helping others. you simply hide behind Rabbis and their clueless followers, with only selfish intentions.

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