Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Council Stalls Gateway Project, Blames Administration

A $50 million project is in limbo after a City Council majority alleged disrespect by the administration.

"I'm not going to say it's political, but it is," Councilwoman Gloria Taylor said as she launched into a lengthy tirade.

Last week, the council failed to advance two ordinances needed for the 212-unit South Avenue Gateway project that was first announced over a year ago. On Monday, developer Joseph Forgione of JMF Properties described the project for the council and urged support of a 30-year "payment in lieu of taxes" plan vital to its success.
Joseph Forgione
Economic Development Director Carlos Sanchez told the council, "Time is of the essence," saying the PILOT is needed for financing the project, and Forgione has contracts on 11 properties that would make up the redevelopment site. Sanchez said if the site stays as it is, the city will only get $3.5 million in taxes over the next 30 years, but if developed, the city will receive three times that amount.

The meeting was about to end with no action taken on the ordinances when Council President Bridget Rivers said although she thought the presentation was excellent and the project was great for Plainfield, she was "not comfortable" with the 30-year PILOT.

She asked how it would impact the school system and said, "You guys are basically looking for yuppies."

She said she had asked Sanchez to include the council in the process and "there should have been transparency."

Alleging the project was "shoved down my throat," she said when she did research on PILOTs, "It aches my body."

Councilwoman Rebecca Williams spoke in favor of the project, citing the $50 million investment and the PILOT income.

"This is how cities transform," she said, calling approval "a wonderful legacy for us as a council."

Taylor said there was no question that the city wanted development, but added, "The council is an entity that you have to work with."

In numerous ways, Taylor scolded the administration:

"I'm sick of this - if you want to work with us, act like it."

"You had a whole year to get us involved."

"I'm tired of this - I'm tired of this game."

"I'm going to talk until we get to the place where we win-win."

Rivers told Sanchez the PILOT might need to be renegotiated and referred him to Councilwoman Diane Toliver, who heads the council's Finance Committee.

The council had previously authorized hiring of a redevelopment counsel and a finance consultant to review the PILOT.

Councilman Cory Storch was out of town but had asked to take part by phone. After City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh explained that the ordinances had not been introduced as new items, Storch moved to put them on the agenda, but no one seconded the motion.

Meanwhile, Forgione asked to speak, but Rivers said no.

Councilwoman Tracey Brown called the project "excellent," but said she felt the administration had been disrespectful.

"We need to have as many meetings as possible to get this project off the ground," she said.

Finally Forgione was allowed to speak. Though taking responsibility, he said, "We've been at this for two years."

He said by going through the redevelopment process (which requires numerous council approvals), he felt the governing body had been informed.  Noting his application was up for approval at Thursday's Planning Board meeting, he said, "I don't know if we should even continue," but offered to do anything "to make you feel more comfortable."

City Administrator Rick Smiley also offered to do anything possible and said there could be a special meeting.  He pointed out that the ordinances had to pass on two readings, so there would be another month to answer questions.

Rivers said she asked Sanchez a month ago to reach out to Toliver, because she is on the Finance Committee.

"We're a rock and a hard place now," she said.

Forgione offered to bring his "full team" to the council, meaning all the expert witnesses he had already brought to the Planning Board.

Toliver said, "We just need a little bit more information," adding, "we should have been spoon-fed."

"This is your expertise," she told Forgione. "You don't know about my expertise."

At 11 p.m., Forgione repeated his apologies and said, "At this hour, I am pleading."

He asked for the ordinances to be tabled, but Rivers said, "There is nothing to table - it's not on the agenda."

Though acknowledging Forgione's distress, Rivers indicated he had just got caught up in the situation.

"Is there a contract, a blue print?" Toliver asked, talking about "small print."

"Back up and bring to the council everything about the PILOT," she said.

(The council had received the 28-page PILOT agreement in last week's packet.)

With more promises from Forgione, the meeting was adjourned.

--Bernice

80 comments:

  1. Word of wisdom to the wealthy. Include the grassroots/the people in your planning and you'll have the support of the masses. They are the ones who need to know the benefits of a 50 million dollar investment. Human development is the foundation of any and all successful development. Organizing for peace and progress for all. Norman X Johnson

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    1. Word of Wisdom to Norman:
      ** Mayor of municipalities is elected by "the people"
      ** City Planning Departments are managed by staff paid "by the people"
      ** City Councils are made up of and elected "by the people"
      ** Planning Boards are made up of citizens "of the people"
      ** Zoning Boards are made up of citizens "of the people"
      ** This developer has made presentations "to the people" - which by the way was attended by several city council people that seem to be so lost on the concept

      If we are going to do everything by vote "of the people" then we should just wrap it up and call it a day because nothing will get done. The people have jobs and children to raise - which is why we elect some of "the people" to handle these public tasks.

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    2. First, I resent your comment that the wealthy are somehow void of wanting the best for Plainfield. Quite frankly, Mr. Johnson, it is the people who you support who are actually holding down those who are not wealthy.

      The "wealthy" as you put it are the ones who are supporting those who are not as fortunate to have a job, or able to get food or medical care. The "wealthy" as you put it are actually in favor of this PILOT because not only will it bring about economic improvement to Plainfield, it will bring jobs in construction and eventually retail, to those people in Plainfield who you claim to support.

      The masses, if the council represents them, have shown that they do not have the business knowledge to understand what the investment is all about. As Toliver said "We need to be spoon fed". Well, if you need to be spoon fed, you are in the wrong position. There should be a base level of business knowledge to sit on the council, and it is glaringly evident that even a modicum of understanding is lacking.

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  2. They have no good reason say no. It's all about "R.E.S.P.E.C.T", to which I say "E.A.R.N. I.T."

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  3. I guess Forgione didnt donate to Jerrys Green's re-election campaign yet.

    Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Do'oh will magically have all the information they need after your donation to Jerry Green for Assembly.

    I knew they were incompetent before but this takes the cake

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    1. ☝������

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  4. Can one of the informed readers please explain the purpose to the developer of a PILOT agreement? Is it to standardize an expense stream over time to satisfy their lenders? Do their overall tax expense reduced? By how much?

    And how does the shift of revenue from schools to city get made up if the development results in significant additional enrollments?

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    1. I don't understand the school part of this question. Plainfield is an Abbott district, with most of its money coming from State dollars, not our taxes. Why would the PILOT program be involved in sending dollars to the school system?

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    2. It is a mechanism to spur growth by reducing some of the taxes paid (i.e. school portion doesn't get paid etc.). With respect to making up revenue of enrollments go up - Plainfield is an Abbott district which makes the conversation different and more complicated. Also this development is not anticipated to be made up of people with children so enrollment shouldn't go up. There is more to all these things - lots of material via "google"

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    3. Bernice reports that the administration claims that the city will receive 10MM over 30 years rather than 3MM. Does that mean that the developer will pay MORE than he/she ordinarily would? No, it means that the city will get more than the properties now generate *in their current state*. To me that's a dishonest way of selling the agreement.

      The real question that should be answered is how much less the developers will pay over 30 years than they otherwise would have paid. About how much would the normal taxes on a 212 unit "luxury" apartment complex have been?

      To oversimplify the agreement, the developer agrees to pay to the city as a fee for services 10% of all rents collected every year for the next 30 years. Why agree to 10%? Why not 12.5%? Or 15%?
      ***

      What does happen to unpaid school taxes? It's naive to believe that all 212 apartments will be rented to those without children. If even 10% of the apartments have an average of 1.5 kids that's 32 students at an cost of 15K per year or $480,000 additional cost, every year. Don't tell me it's complicated - explain where that cash will come from (not to mention the missing school taxes as per the PILOT).

      Wasn't Rivers formerly president of the school board? And Taylor an administrator in Patterson? And Brown a pastor to tons of kids? Don't you think that they would take a whole lot of convincing to agree to shift tax money away from the schools? Did the administration try to sell them or just try to finesse the agreement by saying "trust us"? Kinda like the way that POTUS has tried to sell the Iran treaty, right, OldDoc?

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    4. Anonymous 8:21...the benefit of a PILOT to a developer is that it reduces their overall tax liability...thereby, putting more net revenue into their pocket on the project. This additional net revenue is the added incentive for them to make the investment on a project which they might deem higher risk.

      Some might say that the developer shouldn’t make so much on the project…and without knowing the exact details that might be correct. However, regardless of what the right amount is...investments are made based on the potential return or profit...period! We are not talking about charitable contributions, we are talking about investments. The higher the perceived risk there is in a project...the higher the need for increased return. If I was opening a store in a high traffic shopping mall, the chances for success are greater than if I am opening a store in an off the beaten path strip center.

      With that said, the overall impact to the City is actually increased tax revenue to help offset the tax burden on homeowners. These additional monies can be used to fix roads, hire additional staff to keep the city clean or create opportunity for new projects which might not have been feasible under the existing budget. Maybe one day, these types of projects could actually help to reduce the tax burden on homeowners.

      As it relates to the demographics of the potential residents and the potential impact on schools…based on what I saw these are to be high cost rental units. Typically, these target dual income families that either have very young children or no children. The value of attracting these new residents, once again, is that they will be living and spending money in Plainfield. This in turn will create growth in the overall economy which will encourage opening of new restaurants, stores and other conveniences for the community.

      Eventually, as these renters look to settle down even further and perhaps begin to raise children, they will look first to the area where they are. This will help to support real estate prices in Plainfield…which in turn helps homes retain greater value so that when it’s time to downsize or retire, the increased equity in their homes will help pay the bills.

      As I see it…this project is a great effort towards progress for Plainfield. If I was a resident, taxpayer and/or voter in Plainfield…I would be very disappointed to find out that this project was stalled due to political gamesmanship or a mentality by some of “what’s in for me”.

      That’s not Leadership…That’s not Progress.

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    5. Anon 10:32 - Maybe I am alone in this but I have absolutely no idea what you mean when you say:

      "No, it means that the city will get more than the properties now generate *in their current state*. To me that's a dishonest way of selling the agreement."

      What the hell difference does it make? Upgraded development, a spark for further development in the area and increased revenue to the city versus what we are currently getting. What is your point?

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    6. Bo Vastine I will campaign to get you elected. You'll be hearing from me.

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  5. This council is absolutely pathetic. They won't vote on something because they got their feelings hurt? They don't do their homework, they grandstand, and they are basically a bunch of blowhards who are lucky enough to have constituents who either don't care, or are as uninformed as they.

    Pathetic!

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  6. No one seconded Councilman Storch's motion because Councilwoman Williams had left. If she had stayed she could have seconded the motion if she so desired. This would have forced.a vote.

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  7. To sum it up:
    Taylor: It's political
    Rivers: You guys want yuppies
    Brown: Project excellent but admin disrespectful
    What good is it if you can explain it to them all day but can't understand it for them?

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  8. I was there last night and the council have every right not to VOTE until they are comfortable. This will impact the entire community. What people do not understand is a Pilot impacts our seniors. Taxes will go up. Mayor Mapp and his administration is just disgusting. I watched Councilwomen Williams face and it was like she lost her best friend. She really need to watch her facial expressions.

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  9. If you support this development or not there shouldn't be anyone in the city that isn't completely appalled by statements such as:

    "You guys are basically looking for yuppies." (Rivers). First off that term isn't even used any more. This development would be more focused on Millennials.

    "I'm not going to say it's political, but it is," (Taylor). This is beyond ridiculous to think let alone verbalize. She shouldn't even hold public office.

    "Sanchez said if the site stays as it is, the city will only get $3.5 million in taxes over the next 30 years, but if developed, the city will receive three times that amount." (Bernice reporting). They should all be removed from office.

    "there should have been transparency." (Rivers). Lets see, the developer had a meeting with South Avenue merchants and other city council people attended but you didn't. There have been two other votes before council on this that have passed but apparently you have no memory. There were 20+ pages in the packet last week and an offer from Sanchez to speak to you on subject which you didn't read of accept offer. There have been TWO appearances by applicant before planning board and nobody from council attended. So maybe Rivers needs to define transparent because it can't get much more transparent than this.

    "You had a whole year to get us involved." (Taylor) - It isn't the job of the council to get involved beyond getting information, asking questions and voting. If they want to do more they can attend meetings and ask questions but there is no requirement beyond that. And so far they haven't demonstrated an ability to do their base tasks versus anything additional.

    "We just need a little bit more information," adding, "we should have been spoon-fed." (Toliver). How much more information do you need? You had data in the packet, an offer of a walk through from Sanchez and a presentation by developer. Ask your damn questions and stop talking about having questions. And Spoon fed? That really came out of your mouth? Was that in your campaign literature? "Please elect me and make sure I am spoon fed information"

    "You don't know about my expertise." (Toliver) - I can honestly say nobody knows - likely not even yourself.

    "Is there a contract, a blue print?" Toliver asked, talking about "small print." (Toliver) - we know reading is not your expertise because contracts, blueprints, applications to planning department all mentioned repeatedly - please pay attention.

    project was "shoved down my throat," she said when she did research on PILOTs, "It aches my body." (Rivers) - what does this even mean? And how is the City Council President just now doing research on PILOTS? I am pretty sure you have voted on PILOTS as a council member already and you are just now doing research? Please resign.

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    1. These council meetings are a guilty pleasure -- It's like watching a good episode of Judge Judy! Trash, trash and more trash -- train wrecks, but you just can't look away! LOL...pathetic!

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  10. anon 9:51 I think the council is correct on this one. I do not agree with them all the time but I am a taxpayer of this great city and to give someone a 30 year in this day in time is just outrageous, Council member's take your time this do not pass the smell test.

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    1. You miss the point Anonymous 10:14. This Council had plenty of time to read the information and there was plenty of it. This is a very transparent process and not Sharon's administration. Let's get real. Rivers, Brown, and that poor excuse for a Council President, Rivers need to be removed. They are only watching out for their self interests, not those of the city.

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  11. This has Jerry Green written all over it. Reject, refuse, and renege!

    There is no substantive argument put forth by any of these women other than the excuse that they didn't know. Even the village idiot would understand the simple math of the PILOT as it has been explained. They're not interested in understanding. They're not interested in moving the City forward.

    To Bridget Rivers: Yes, exactly we are looking for yuppies, those are the people who will bring in money -- pay their rents on time, contribute to the local economy, bring in fresh ideas and add to the already diverse community that is Plainfield. You, on the other hand are more interested bringing in go-go dancers and drug dealers into a residential neighborhood.

    Rivers use of the word 'yuppie', I think, is code for gentrification which is code for non-African-American; if so, African-Americans are increasingly more financially successful AND affluent and are interested in living in developments like these, so don't sell short that demographic. She likely knows that an influx of well educated, high income earners will result in a new majority that will put an end to her patronage job. What exactly do you do Bridget?

    To Gloria Taylor: If you want to work with us, act like it! You had a whole year to get involved, where were you? We are tired of this, tired of this game. Right back at you Gloria, why don't you give us some answers?

    To Tracey Brown: "Disrespectful" is the best she can come up with to keep from having to make a decision. She's a smart woman who knows whats best for her community and constituency. Get off the pot and vote for what you know is right.

    To Diane Toliver: How embarrassing that you would admit that you have to be spoon-fed, which essentially means you don't know what's going and/or even care to understand. Do a little research, Google it, Wiki it -- do something. What exactly is your expertise Ms. Toliver that you sit on the Finance Committee but don't know the difference between blue print and small print?That's a classic "Archie-Bunkerism". Completely disconcerting that this woman sits on the council making any kind of decision on behalf of her community.

    This motley crew is embarrassment to Plainfield.

    Their days are numbered. They know it and they're scared. Let's make this dream a reality.

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    1. If it wasn't for Jerry Green, Toliver, Rivers, Brown, and Taylor wouldn't even be on the City Council. They have shown over and over again that they are unfit to hold office. How can we remove them. I know the City Committee is ready to remove them when they come up for re-election. I can't wait to vote them off the ticket.

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  12. Lalo you are a embarrassment to Plainfield. Council keep up the good work.

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    1. So sorry if the truth hurts Anon 10:33 -- are you also scared you'll be out of a job?

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  13. Here we go as soon as the council do not rubber stamp the Mapp administration here come all the negativity. Mayor Mapp your days are numbered.

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    1. How much is Jerry paying you to say this. We have transparency in this pilot, which is more than we got from Sharon. Think, Monarch!

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  14. Let's see how quick we are to give a African American a 30 year pilot. There are some African American contractor's in Plainfield that can get the resources to do a multi million dollar development. How come I don't see them getting a chance.

    Council member's do your thing.

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    1. When all else fails, pull out the race card!

      These are not contractors Anonymous 10:57AM. These are developers, not the same thing.

      The Council members are "doing their thing" that's why this City is in the hole that it's been for nearly 4 decades, smarty.

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    2. African Americans have been in the majority in Plainfield for how long? and have had leadership positions for how long? and have done what in that time?

      City Data tells you the story of what's been happening in Plainfield over the years - it's not good news and all that time African Americans were in charge, so who are you going to blame now. Oh right, society.

      Take a look, this link will tell you the story.

      http://www.city-data.com/city/Plainfield-New-Jersey.html

      All of a sudden there's renewed interest in this City, you are not in the majority, Latinos are buying homes, fixing them up and opening up businesses. Gays have long been moving here, fixing up their homes and have a solid and growing community here. More and more, empty nesters from Westfield, Scotch Plains and Fanwood are selling their homes and making their home in Plainfield.

      So now you feel threatened and you're losing ground and you're watching the change happen right before your very eyes. Well too bad. You had nonsense leadership that kept the poor folks poor and kept their pockets lined with your support. They patted you on the back, gave you a big smile, fed you and all the while they were digging a hole for you, so now it's time to lie and let those that know keep the little engine that could moving forward.

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    3. Anon 10:57 - the PILOT is an incentive for development it is not the funding to building the project. This developer is securing his own funds for the construction. If there are developers in town who have an idea and have financing but would be interested in a PILOT I have no doubt the city would be glad to listen and the council would be happy to not read the information in their packet.

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  15. For Gloria Taylor to be such a educated woman, she sure comes across as an arrogant, bitter and lazy elected official. As an elected official, Taylor does the 3rd ward a disservice. Does she realize that she was elected to represent are best interest with unbiased informed decision making. She was not elected to bash the mayor and his administration at every council meeting, it’s disgraceful to the city and extremely disheartening. Did I read correctly, did Toliver say they needed to be spoon-feed? Are they babies or grown-ups that was elected by us citizens to represent are best interest. Council , do you homework which includes research, reading and whatever else you need to do so when you come to the council meetings you are fully prepared. There is no excuse for the council to not move this project forward, It’s obvious that everything you needed to know was available to you. I feel so cheated as a citizen for their lack of knowledge and professionalism. Everybody in the political arena knew about this project and for the council to sit back now and say they were left in the dark is nothing short of a shame. This particular project will either be a great catalyst for moving Plainfield forward in a positive direction or it could turn out to be nothing but a flop filled with section 8 and low income. The fact of the matter is, if we don’t try we will never know. As a stakeholder, I am willing to take the chance. I say we move forward with this one immediately and maybe hold off on any new apartments that are not already in progress until we see how this one turns out.

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  16. Wait... let me get this straight... The City Council President in the United States MOST densely populated state, in one of the worlds LARGEST metropolitan regions needs to look up what a PILOT encompasses ??
    You dear woman are a poor excuse for an elected official... No need to stand up on record to proclaim you are a politcal lackey thrown into office by your puppet master.. everytime you open your mouth you about anything you make it know.
    Congratulations to the rest of you on the city council who proclaim to be uninformed, any citizen posting on this blog already has more information than you and we weren't "spoon fed a city council packet" with all the information...
    Hopefully the developer will send Jerry 'some respect" soon, so the rest of you will get over the "disrespect" and this $50, 000, 000 investment into the city of Plainfield can go forward.
    And for any of you bitching about what it will do to the school district.. news flash.. you're paying only 15% of what you should be for school taxes because the rest of the state is paying 85% of it for you ... if you were TRULY interested in school taxes you 'd be asking the state to investigate why your 15% is easily 50% higher than neighboring school districts that are paying 100% of theirs and contributing to the 85% of Plainfield's school taxes ... wait, hang on.. your Democratic Genius soon to be indicted Jon Corzine DID investigate the waste of the taxpayers money but scuttled the report when the embarrassing documents revealed what waste and graft was occurring in the Abbott Districts...

    So look to your elected officials.. the Democratic Dream Machine and we'll see stifled investment ( unless the proper RESPECT is PAID ) and wasteful largess ...

    Jerry's kids and their supporters are the only thing that make Jerry look intelligent.. in the land of the blind , the one eyed man is king.

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  17. It's the council does not rubber stamp - not - do not rubber stamp

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  18. For Gloria Taylor to be such a educated woman, she sure comes across as an arrogant, bitter and lazy elected official. As an elected official, Taylor does the 3rd ward a disservice. Does she realize that she was elected to represent are best interest with unbiased informed decision making. She was not elected to bash the mayor and his administration at every council meeting, it’s disgraceful to the city and extremely disheartening. Did I read correctly, did Toliver say they needed to be spoon-feed? Are they babies or grown-ups that was elected by us citizens to represent are best interest. Council , do you homework which includes research, reading and whatever else you need to do so when you come to the council meetings you are fully prepared. There is no excuse for the council to not move this project forward, It’s obvious that everything you needed to know was available to you. I feel so cheated as a citizen for their lack of knowledge and professionalism. Everybody in the political arena knew about this project and for the council to sit back now and say they were left in the dark is nothing short of a shame. This particular project will either be a great catalyst for moving Plainfield forward in a positive direction or it could turn out to be nothing but a flop filled with section 8 and low income. The fact of the matter is, if we don’t try we will never know. As a stakeholder, I am willing to take the chance. I say we move forward with this one immediately and maybe hold off on any new apartments that are not already in progress until we see how this one turns out.

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  19. This smells of the same thing I experienced years ago with Malcom. The money is not black enough. He didint want white money investing in the city and the council is doing the same thing all over again. When we offered the City up to 1 BILLION dollars to help rebuild the downtown and it is turned down, you know something stinks. Hotels, offices, event space and housing. Construction jobs, permanent jobs and sales tax revenue all flushed down the toilet. Shameful and all because the uneducated person thinks the pilots are stealing from them. You are getting the money directly instead of sharing it with the state. Get the facts. This is a win win for everyone. You get yuppies and BUPPIES, yes, the black ones too, but now they are called Millennials. They are usually single or just married, no kid high income households. They spend in the community. They rent until the family comes along and then they buy in the community. I could go on all day. This is shameful and the council should be embarrassed by their actions and comments that prove they are not qualified to be on the council. You are all intelligent women. You are embarrassing yourselves and shouldn't be. Rethink your decision process and help to move the city forward. Its the right thing to do.

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    1. These people are pathetic, can we please start an online petition to have these people removed from elected office?

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  20. I've got a great idea let the council vote it down and let the best properties continue to be built in the neighboring towns. Plainfield will always be a section 8 city because of Jerry green and this city council.

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    1. Rivers and Taylor want more go-go bars in this city. That brings in jobs to Plainfield and I bet they get a reduced, if not free, drink at the bar.

      GO-GO!!!!

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  21. It is sad because all around us is new development. New Brunswick, Somerville, the shining star of redevelopment. Now even lowly Bound Brook. Capodagali (sp) who proposed projects in Plainfield walked away after all the bs. has 1 building up in Bound Brook and another in the proposal stage. Near a train and bringing in the millennials with money to spend. The opportunity is there if you allow it to be. It is shameful that Plainfield is seen by the outside world as a big ghetto with gangs and drugs everywhere. You get a chance to prove it wrong and attract new people in and it is blown off. If it were another section 8 project they would roll out the red carpet.

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    1. If they had guarantees that it would employ all of their friends and families it would definitely get a rubber stamp!

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  22. Don't allow these few miserable people on the blog to try and intimidate you. DO NOT GIVE ANYONE A 30 YEAR PILOT.

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  23. the difference between the other towns is they understand politics. this administration do not.

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    1. Does that mean we're supposed to give Taylor, Rivers, and Toliver something for voting for this, for what's good for Plainfield? Sounds like your promoting kickbacks and illegalities. Maybe it worked with Sharon, but not now.

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    2. This council does not understand business, that's the bottom line.

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    3. you can look at Jerry Greens elec report and see the kickbacks. Look at a guy like edison garcia who pretty much gets to write his own rules and regulations downtown. All has to do is go to jerry and boom wat ever he want jerrys stooges on the council will give him.

      I wish Bernice would do an expose on the donations all the elected officials in this town get and and look at the projects they have lined up. Cronyism on top of cronyism.

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  24. Marshall Brown would not hold a candle to some of the people complaining and holding things up now.

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  25. Something to explore:

    Recall may not commence during first year in office.
    No specific grounds are required
    Time for gathering signatures is 160 days.
    Signature requirement is number equal to 25% of the registered voters of the district

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    1. I'm in! Seriously, we need to organize, show up at these council meetings and let them know they work for us, not the other way around.

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    2. Actually our Plainfield charter calls for 33 1/3% of registered voters need to sign a petition for a recall. Our new charter would change that number to 25% but it has not been voted upon.

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  26. I am curious for the people who are against this pilot program how do they believe these large scale projects get developed in other neighboring towns and around the state?

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  27. With all due respect, there are some assumptions for all who support the approval of this project via PILOTS need to address. Number one, the idea that these units (and the amenities that surround these units) will be considered "luxury" units in the first place. In addition, the city has a history of making deals with developers that deviate once "market conditions" change. What am I saying? There certainly is a possibility that this project ends up being nothing more than a group of glorified high density apartments with the same demographics that populate most other complexes.

    Bridgette Rivers has the right to be concerned. The Plainfield school system is bursting at the seams. To add ANY additional students to the system without any additional resources to match (PILOTS don't add to school resources)would be a disservice to all the students in Plainfield's school system and the teachers that deal with the problem of overcrowding. Our school children being educated in the hallways because their classrooms are at capacity can't be called good development.

    If you want to use PILOTS, use them for things WE DON'T HAVE! A commercial zone that provides jobs. A movie theater, a REAL grocery store, A major eatery(e.g. Olive Garden), A satellite of Higher Learning(HBCU), An outdoor/indoor shopping venu. Thousands of dollars a month are being spent by Plainfield residents in surrounding communities because there are limited options that exist for that kind of consumer in Plainfield.

    Regarding the real estate demand, currently as of 5:37pm EST 8/18/15 Plainfield has over 400 properties for sale. Never mind the foreclosures that are pending. The last thing we need is even more inventory on the market. While density has its advantages our existing neighborhoods have plenty of units for $1400 a month.

    Lastly, our 50k + residents are already begging for services like an ambulance service that reflects the needs of its population. Improve the conditions and amenities that currently exist and Plainfield won't have to resort to PILOTS as a last resort for development.

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    1. How do you explain that the 22 units on South Avenue near the fire house sold out before it was complete?

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    2. Tony... why is Plainfield the way it is ? It's an entrenched system of corruption and good ole boy politics.
      Do you truly believe a major corporation like Olive Garden would even bother with the petty bickering likes of Taylor and Rivers ?? No.. they never would, they wouldn't lower themselves. What successful national corporation would deal with the likes of what is sitting on that city council stating, "they been disrespected" ?? Seriously.. pick one, pick just one corporation that would tolerate the likes of Rivers, Tolivier and Taylor ?? The entire community will wait for you to try and think of one.
      Respect is earned, not demanded nor does it come in the form of election year contributions.
      Dealing with the developer of the Monarch you had Jerry and Sharon's buddies preventing any meaningful action. The same group that prevents the city from going after back taxes aggressively and shockingly enough, the same group that will support business that are not good for a neighborhood, the same group that allowed the hospital closure to go through, the same group that has it's hand firmly around the neck of this city and is gripping it as tightly as it can. Rivers is no more concerned about the children in the school district than she is about the average citizen in Plainfield. She is concerned with grand standing, public wailing and fist pounding all in an attempt to keep her do nothing patronage job safe and secure.
      Per the school district ... well... now that's a completely different subject.. The residents of the City of Plainfield DO NOT PAY FOR THE SCHOOL SYSTEM... they pay a thin slice of the bloated budget that has NOTHING to do with the education of the children in Plainfield, but no, they don't pay for even a fair portion. The rest of the State of NJ pays for Plainfield's school system.
      The Abbott Schools audit that was buried by the Corzine administration was noted for wasteful spending on anything and everything that had NOTHING to do with educating students. Clean that closet first before crying there isn't enough money.
      Until Plainfield removes the likes of Rivers and Taylor from the City Council, Plainfield will have to resort to ANYTHING to get an investment of $50,000,000 in it while communities all around us are reaping the rewards of good government and the successful business environment it creates.

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    3. so youre saying a Bridget Rivers approved gogo bar isnt major attraction for the city?

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    4. I agree 100%!

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    5. Hello Anon 8:05pm,

      Market demand is how I would explain them selling so quickly. I'm not suggesting there isn't a need or demand for well designed residential projects. I'll take your word those 22 units are great. My issue is I think some mistake activity for effectiveness. Sustained economic growth requires a well balanced mixture of residential and commercial development. Land is a scarcity and I believe if the city is going to use PILOTS they should first be used to encourage commercial expansion, amenities and other attractions that make Plainfield a more appealing place to live, work & play.

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    6. I think the primary issue here is a general thought process that the entire city is going to be made into apartments. Some perspective on this might help. My numbers are a little rough so they may be off a little one way or another but in general they tell the story:
      ** 212 Units would be about 1.4% of current residences in Plainfield.
      ** If you have an average of 2 people per unit in the 212 unit complex that would be 424 new residence to Plainfield (assuming no current resident moves into them) - that is .8% increase in population.

      These are not huge numbers by any means. Additionally, while PILOTS may have been used historically for commercial developments they have also been used for residential properties - so this isn't a unique request.

      Also, commercial properties are harder to attract if you do not have a draw for the businesses. If you have 400 residence newly located within the South Avenue district, there is now a captive audience and a draw for developers of commercial properties - and less need for the city to provide an incentive for those commercial developers because there is a built-in audience already - i.e the demand has been created.

      Tony - you state that "sustained economic growth requires well balanced mixture of residential and commercial development" - what is your indication that there is not a balanced plan for economic development currently? How do you, or anyone posting comments, know that there are not multiple developers waiting for this project to close so that they can move forward with their plans?

      Sadly, the answer is you don't - the standard approach today is to toss out comments, in a vacuum, and because they sound good without additional information then they must be correct.

      I agree with your comment about having "amenities and other attractions that make Plainfield a more appealing place to live, work & play" - however, I disagree with your assessment on balance and I disagree with which development is the cart and which is the horse.

      When a developer knocks on your door and is interested in spending $50 Million - you would be a fool as a mayor to say "oh no, sorry we aren't interested, please go spend your money elsewhere while we look for someone to build an olive garden."

      We need to stop thinking of developers as evil oligarchs who want to take advantage of us. Do those exist? Of course they do - but we have to be open to ideas, conversations and dialogue with developers and treat them more as partners and clients. It doesn't mean that we can't push back on things that we don't want or call them out if we think they are taking advantage a little. But we have to be open to ideas.

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    7. Anon 8:05pm the 22 units on South Ave are rentals, there was no sale involved. However, I hope someone is compiling statistics on the makeup of the tenants in this development so they can be include in future arguments such as these. Were this units indeed rented to Millennia’s or were they just rented to Plainfielders moving from one end of the city to another?

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    8. Well said Tony, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

      KS.

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    9. anon 8:22AM you must have missed Bernice’s article when she said there are currently 800 new rental units in progress for Plainfield. So when you state your facts and figures please be sure to include all facts and figures. As you know this is not the only planned apartment complex for Plainfield. As for your claim that we currently do not have a draw for commercial business, what do you call over 50,000 residents that currently live in our city?

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    10. Anon 10:30 - I didn't include the potential 800 units because those are just that - potential. Many things that go through the planning department, zoning board or planning boards don't see the light of day - even when approved. Also, the math still shows that this isn't hysteria time - if you have 800 x 2 per unit those are still low percentages. Not time for high drama.

      As for the "draw", you have 50,000 residents in a city that hasn't seen any meaningful development in decades. That is not an incentive for businesses to come to. You have a town of 50,000 that has a complete joke of a city council that treats anyone outside their rolodex like a viper - not an incentive for a business to come to town. You also have a previous administration that spent without a plan and has put the city in a difficult position with respect to the budget and spending for necessary upgrades like needed parking garages downtown to support a revitalized area. Like I have said before, people love to toss their comments out in a vacuum without understanding the full picture and the balancing act that must take place.

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  28. Mr. Rucker.
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and detailed response. There are real concerns for this PILOT arrangement. Why are luxury apartments always synonymous for economic development? What about the ghosts of luxury developments past (Monarch, Tepper's)? Or even luxury developments still fighting for birth (hey Solaris! ) They panned out to be neither luxury nor fully developed. Why the Council is not fully prepared with facts and figures, I can't account for that. However, there are foreclosures that should be addressed as well as unoccupied or underpriced apartment units that need to be considered. Of course, economic development is the desired outcome-- but will Plainfield be paying the same price again?

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  29. What people are forgetting this was a walk on resolution. That was a big part of the discussion last night. Councilwoman Williams left, and Councilman Storch by phone tried to move it. There was no one to second to force the vote. People please understand the process.

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  30. Hurrah for Tony Rucker who understands that PILOTS work best for nonresidential projects that bring in jobs and amenities and don't burden the school district. When it comes to housing, they are nothing but a subsidy paid for by existing property owners and school children. PILOTS should subsidize commerce, not "luxury" rentals.

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  31. Tony is right on. The last 2 developers why claimed to build "luxury" apartments failed and are still a mess and the taxpayers are still paying for their mistakes.

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    1. And those developers had Jerry Green's "Head of housing and local government" Stamp of approval on them didnt they

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  32. Where's Sharon? Doesn't she want to come before the Counsel and TV cameras to tell us what went wrong with her deals? The future shouldn't be punished because of the past.

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  33. Tony Rucker has it exactly backward. Having these rentals in the transit-oriented development area will bring more commercial development to Plainfield. Does he really think that an "Olive Garden" will come to Plainfield without the captive market that close proximity of these renters will provide? If you look at what has happened along the North/South Ave corridors in Fanwood and Garwood especially, most of the new businesses have come in after the residential developments were up. When he says, "Market demand is how I would explain them selling so quickly" regarding the Netherwood Pointe apartments, well, duh! His own statement proves there is market demand! Those are very nice apartments, in the range of $1350-1450, and they are completely rented--were rented very quickly. A commercial project is going up right across the street--a new store in the national Family Dollar chain. The proposed South Avenue project would help with all the other commercial development around the Netherwood station--both sides, North Avenue included. If Rucker is saying this is not the right development for our city, and to tell the developer no thanks, we will wait for Olive Garden and all the other commercial developers who have been banging on Plainfield's doors for the past 10 years, he is off the mark. We have to start somewhere and the administration and Carlos Sanchez in particular should be applauded for their hard work.

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    1. What Tony doesn't have backwards is that the PILOT is a multi-million dollar subsidy to JMT paid for by Plainfielders. If the project is economically viable, let it stand on its own two feet like every other apartment complex built on South Avenue. It should not be carried on the backs of taxpayers and school children.

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    2. Is this what the Mayor and his staff call economic development, bringing in another family dollar store? We have plenty of 99/dollar stores in town. We need stores that Garfield and Westfield and other Union County towns have to shop in.

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    3. ANON 2:43 - do us all a favor. drive from dunnellen to the GSP and stop at every city hall and ask them what incentives they provided to developers in the last 3-4 years. Then come back and tell us that Plainfield is wrong to do the same. We are competing against other cities - so we have to play on the same level to get development going. We have to do it in a way that is a win-win and doesn't hurt the city but we have to compete. Also - this isn't on the backs of Plainfielders as some have stated - it puts MORE into the city treasury than we are getting now.

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  34. I cannot believe there are 70 comments on this blog all with pros and cons for a PILOT (although some very good points) that has nothing to do with the council’s actions. If you were at the council meeting or saw David’s’ video you would realize that this whole argument and grandstanding by the council has nothing to do with the PILOT. It’s all a smokescreen to let the developer know he didn’t follow protocol with the appropriate payoffs and ass-kissing. Once that happens and the developer kisses JG’s ring the council will miraculously give their blessing to move forward with the PILOT and anything else needed or wanted. What a waste of time and energy. In the end the PILOT will be approved by the council. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

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  35. The JMT PILOT:The Council SHOULD make a component of a larger Deal

    #1 If there is such a high demand for apartments on the a South Ave Corridor why does the city need to offer a PILOT to incentivize investment in the first place?

    #2 There is already tremendous pent-up demand for more upscale goods and services from the EXISTING 50K+ of Plainfields residents. Why don't the council advocates of this PILOT use this tool for things their constituents are already begging for.

    #3 Finally, The council shouldn't place this PILOT on the agenda until it is a part of a much more comprehensive development plan that includes commercial development, entertainment venues and other attractions which every resident of this city would benefit from. Now that's the kind of project that deserves PILOT approval.

    Respectfully submitted.

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    1. Tony - with respect to your comment #1 - why are you having some much trouble understanding demand in the general market versus demand in Plainfield? The demand for this type of housing is in the general market and trends in housing. Get your google on and see what you find. Now, what Plainfield is trying to do it address that demand and direct it to our town. So the demand is "out there" and we want to bring it "in here".

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  36. The Council should table this proposal by JMT. A RFP(Request For Proposal) should issued to attract and develop the type of commercial and entertainment venues Mr. Rucker mentioned in earlier posts. The total group of investors(including JMT) should be part of one package the council should consider for PILOT approval. By simultaneously launching Live, Work, Play components of development, Plainfield can mitigate the risk of this project being just another subsidized apartment complex. As Donald Trump would say, "We need a better deal!"

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    1. Anon 5:01 - you pretty much have no idea what you are talking about or how development works. An RFP would work if the city owned the properties - but they don't. So this is a developer that is coming to Plainfield and buying properties to develop.

      If this project doesn't happen because the Council got in the way over nonsense I can assure you that the phones at city hall will stop ringing from developers. The word will spread in no time that Plainfield is not open for business and it will be years before that reputation changes and the phones start ringing again. And by then every town along the RVL will have gotten the best of the developments.

      Also - I find it ironic that you would quote Donald Trump - you do know that he is a developer and gets a lot of tax abatements and other incentives from state and local governments to do his deals.

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  37. I don't know where this "larger deal" is coming from, but if we don't act soon these investors will move on. Plainfield isn't the only desirable town to invest in. That's the reality of what we're seeing or if you're some Council members, not seeing.

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  38. Some of the language of the council members may be considered outrageous, but bottom line is that their approval is required to get this project moving forward.

    Who cares if they want to be spoon fed? If I was the developer or the city administrator I would already have had people assigned to each council member and was in communication with each of them constantly to make sure that they have had their questions answered and their concerns alleviated.

    I too am concerned about the parking situation. I have lived or visited a variety of apartment buildings (luxury or otherwise) where there were insufficient parking spaces for guests AND visitors. I do not pretend to know what the best number is, but if the developers already have the expectation that there will be a need for some people to park on the street or in offsite lots, then you know there is going to be insufficient parking. I agree that you do not want parking on the public street -- that is just trouble waiting to happen.

    "Normal practice" goes out the window here in Plainfield. We can moan and complain all we want about politics and laziness and grandstanding and blah blah blah... but its not going to get anything accomplished.

    This is too important to let slip by. And to those who are saying that we do not need residential economic development: all economic development is positive and brings positive light to Plainfield.

    It is dangerous to play Russian Roulette with economic development when there is little development knocking at our door, especially we have seen how there is market demand for residential units. "Development Plans" are great in theory, but this is not Halloween. We do not go knocking on the doors of private developers asking to develop in our town. And I hope you realize that if the JMT deal falls through over politics or unrealistic demands/expectations, I would expect that this will be communicated to other developers on how Plainfield is not friendly to development and we will not have many more knocks.

    Now, I am not saying that we should get taken to the cleaners and just accept anything that is provided to us face value-- but if we due our due diligence and conduct business in good faith, transparency, and sound decision making and get rid of the politics... then we can be proud of the final result, whether it is to move forward or to pass.

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