PILOT Agreement motivates the Township decision. Please forward and share with your friends and neighbors in Middletown NJ. web view
It's a wrap.... but the fat lady has not sung.... We still have a lawsuit against the Township.
Much to our disappointment, the Planning Board unanimously voted to grant approval for the Village 35 commercial project.
WHAT WE LEARNED.
–– The Township hired a traffic engineer (Adam Catherine), to review the area near the site. After reviewing the traffic data, he estimated that by connecting Kings Highway West (Old Village Kings Highway) to Tindall Road that ½ the traffic in the Twin Brooks jughandle will be alleviated at the PM peak hour on weeknights. He claimed that after the mall is built, there will be close to the same amount of traffic in the Twin Brooks jughandle that is there is now if this mitigation happens.
–– The resulting problem of connecting Tindall Road and Kings Highway West (Old Village) is there will be considerably more traffic because of this mitigation. There is no jughandle planned at Town Hall to hold the cars that will queue up to cross over to Tindall Road. They will stack onto Kings Highway near Town Hall.
–– The Middletown Village Historic District on Kings Highway will become a giant parking lot, and our Township doesn’t care if we cannot get out of our side streets, need sidewalks, have major truck traffic, are concerned for our safety, or need to walk to the train station. If they do care, there is not much they can or plan to do about it. No traffic data was actually collected from traffic from Church Street off Kings Highway, which is also a route from the Lincroft area to the library, supermarkets, shopping centers, etc.
–– Double or triple the traffic counts on all Township roads near the site were deemed to be irrelevant.
–– Once the project became a redevelopment plan, the Township did not care about the environmental concerns even though it is documented that there is significant contamination on the site. Two representatives from the Township Environmental Commission addressed environmental concerns on the site.
Briefly, it seemed that the Planning Board would do the right thing and at least carry a vote to a future meeting, allowing the members to read and understand documents presented to them last night, documents expressing concerns about contamination on the site. That hope was short-lived as the Township rushed to judgment, claiming environmental issues were the developer’s concern and that the DEP would resolve them at a later date. Really?
–– Not all the “other” developments on Route 35 were included in any of the studies. The New Town Hall (with 2 pad sites) and the new ShopRite at the former Sears location were not included in the study of Old Kings Highway; nor was the Tractor Supply, which is clearly a destination store.
–– The Township traffic engineer recommended (NOT REQUIRED) that the developers look at the roadways 6 months after the mall is 75% occupied to possibly change the timing on the traffic lights.
–– There is still only one way to gain entrance to the mall from 35 South, and that is Twin Brooks Avenue. No Plan B is in place for another southbound jughandle or any left turn lanes into the mall, such as exist at The Grove in Shrewsbury. The Twin Brooks jughandle is supposed to clear in 1.5 cycles at peak hours once the mall is built and Tindall is connected to Kings Highway West.
–– One resident stated that no other mall in NJ allows traffic to dump into a pocket neighborhood like this one does. We said we do not want it designed that way and just because NJDOT approved it does not mean it’s appropriate.
–– We did not receive traffic counts for neighborhood cut-through traffic even though we asked multiple times.
–– We recommended that Pine Street, Apple Farm Road, and Tindall Road/Kings Highway connection all have delayed green lights at the intersections now. Not sure that will happen.
–– The estimated increased 3.5x current traffic counts on Sleepy Hollow Road and Kings Highway East ( the latter has a blind hill curve near the planned entrance to the residential development) are not at capacity for the roadway yet.
–– When asked who is going to follow up on Chapel Hill Road since nothing is going to be done now, we were told that the Township Planner is meeting with NJDOT next week and MIGHT discuss it then. There is no current plan for mitigation there. Oak Hill Road will be a route for travel from the Lincroft area to Village 35.
WHAT THE TOWNSHIP AGREED TO.
Mr. Gorman, the Planning Board attorney, stated that the Township will go to NJDOT to ask for a permit for the Tindall Road/Kings Highway connection. If NJDOT agrees to the plan, then the developer will fund the design and acquisition of the properties needed through the redevelopment process. Village 35 will ask Mountain Hill to sell the “Blue House” at the Tindall jughandle and a portion of land to create this mitigation. It will also likely be necessary to seek purchase of a portion of the vacant property and the 7-11 parking lot on the northeast corner of Route 35/Tindall Road.
Our Township wanted our appreciation for hiring a traffic expert we requested over 2 years ago to review the traffic study by the developer. While we are appreciative that they hired an outside firm to review the traffic data, they only focused on one intersection, did not broaden the scope of the study, and did not consider recommending reducing the project to mitigate serious traffic increases all around the site. Three years ago, the developers had this same application before the Planning Board, and there were many more restrictions in place to protect the community. One was a 45,000 sq. ft. store stipulation, which then became the 130,000 sq ft Wegmans destination supermarket in a nicely packaged redevelopment plan with no public involvement. Then we sued the Township.
It should be noted that it was also confirmed, AFTER the vote was taken, that this project is connected to a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement. Again, such an agreement typically creates a deal very favorable to the developer, in which certain revenues are paid “in lieu of taxes”. Typically, 95% of such monies are apportioned to the municipality and 5% to the county. The school district receives 0%. The term of the agreement an be as long as 30 years. It’s obvious that the residents are not benefiting from such an agreement.
An individual Planning Board member stated privately after the meeting that if it were not approved, the Township would likely face a lawsuit by the developer and the Township had already spent far too much money over the years defending lawsuits regarding this site. That member was reminded that another is pending—ours.
WHY WE ARE SUING THE TOWN.
1. As major stakeholders, residents and taxpayers of Middletown, we want a voice in what's being developed in our Town.
2. Area in need of redevelopment designation enables the Township and the developers to negotiate a PILOT (Payment in Lieu Of Taxes) agreement to encourage development.The developer does not pay market rate taxes (like we homeowners or any other commercial business) and the Township does not have to allocate any of these funds to the school district. (School taxes are approximately 67% of homeowner taxes in Middletown.) This is why we are seeing so many parcels of desirable real estate being designated for "redevelopment".
In other words, with PILOT, the developers do not pay their fair share of taxes, in this case for prime real estatethat did not need redevelopment incentive. The Village 35 tract of land had development contracts in place before the Town pushed through the designation!
Sadly, the only way for tax-paying residents to be heard and to be considered stakeholders in their town is to have Legal representation.
PLEASE CONTRIBUTE NOW. Our extraordinary Legal team, Litwin & Provence, LLC, needs to be funded. We are lucky to have them all. Regarding the lawsuit challenging the redevelopment designation, we still have not yet received notice of a decision by Judge Quinn.
We could not be more proud of our community for packing the room and staying late to voice their neighborhood concerns. Thank you to everyone who has come to meetings and contributed to the cause. We still have our lawsuit in place and are waiting for the judge to hand down his verdict. If we win, there is a possibility that the developers might have to start the process over again.
The next meeting will focus on the Toll Brothers residential tract's Plans.
Wednesday, August 7th
6:30 PM Town Hall
ThIs portion of the redevelopment project, known as Middletown Walk, has not yet been approved by the Planning Board.
Our Goals for the Circus Liquors Redevelopment Plan, formerly known as Village 35:
Create more open passive and recreational space, be mindful of the rights of surrounding residents, reduce additional traffic congestion, public involvement for the design and a plan that is appropriate for the area and protects our quality of life.