There are two things that people will remember about 2013 (at least according to traffic on this site): the hotel closing and the mayor resigning. If you look at the Google Analytics for 2013, the graph has a steady pace until September when it shoots up like a rocket and then comes back to Earth. Of course, there were other things that occurred in 2013, like construction under way on the 116-unit Metro Rahway and pending completion of another project, the 108-unit Meridia Water’s Edge.
The proposed 115-unit Lafayette Village project at the corner of Main and Monroe streets (map) is expected to begin construction in 2014 after finally getting necessary state permits and other approvals in recent months.
Due to “popular demand,” our “Tax appeal week” posts have been extended into another week. OK, the real reason is I couldn’t get it done last week.
About 120 properties won tax appeals at the Union County Board of Taxation this fall, collectively knocking almost $182,000 off their tax bills for the 2012 year.
Let’s call it “Tax appeal week” at Rahway Rising as we catch up on a few more tax appeals over the last several months, including those approved at the county tax board, decided at the state Tax Court or settled with the city.
STS Tire and Auto Center on St. Georges Ave. (Block 7, Lot 1) had its 2012 tax bill cut in half after a judgment by the state Tax Court. The City Council authorized a refund of $16,705.26 at its Nov. 12 meeting (AR-240), some 46 percent off the total property tax bill of about $36,310 paid by STS on its three St. Georges Avenue lots.
The main parcel on St. Georges Avenue, about a third of an acre and including the building, is assessed for $512,000 and had a tax bill of $29,906 in 2012. Two other land-only lots (Block 7, Lots 2 and 3), which were not appealed, are assessed at a combined $105,900, with taxes of $6,404, for a total 2012 tax bill of about $36,310.
Bridgewater-based STS also was among more than 120 tax appeals in the city for the 2013 tax year that were approved by the county tax board. The City Council approved the judgements at its October meeting and we’ll post details on those appeals and new assessments later this week.
The Redevelopment Agency approved a $215,000 settlement with A&M Industrial Supply last month, a year after the company filed suit in a dispute over relocation assistance.
A&M had been located on Campbell Street between Elm Avenue and West Cherry Street until last year when the property was acquired as part of the 116-unit Metro Rahway development that broke ground this summer. The Redevelopment Agency discussed the litigation in closed session during several of its meetings this year, including a 30-minute closed session at its Nov. 13 meeting.
A&M, which is still located in Rahway, filed suit in November 2012 seeking $300,000 and the settlement came about after court-ordered mediation in October. The agency will be required to make the $215,000 payment by the end of the year but admits no fault, Redevelopment Agency attorney Frank Regan said.
A&M Industrial claimed that the agency, through Executive Director Peter Pelissier, agreed to provide relocation assistance in conjunction with selling their property to Heartstone Development. However, Regan said commissioners never formally approved and authorized payment nor was the agency ever obligated to provide assistance since it was not acquiring the property.
The only times the agency has provided relocation assistance in the past has been when it acquired properties itself, he said, such as the former Bell Drugs property on Irving Street for the YMCA’s expansion and as part of the Rosegate project on East Hazelwood Avenue. In the case of Metro Rahway, Heartstone Development acquired the parcels for the project, including the 1.56-acre A&M site on Campbell Street.
The dispute has its origins in 2005 when A&M Supply — after learning a few years earlier that its property was part of a redevelopment plan — sought relocation assistance from the Redevelopment Agency. The economic downturn delayed the project, including several changes to the plans, and A&M at times was not prepared to relocate, needing to find a suitable new location, according to the lawsuit. Heartstone acquired the A&M site in 2012 and got the project moving again.
A&M was close to securing a new property that it had to close on by February 2013, according to the lawsuit, when in October 2012 it had been advised that the Redevelopment Agency would not be providing assistance, prompting the litigation.
A&M’s suit claimed that a Nov. 7, 2005 letter from Pelissier confirmed that the agency had adopted a resolution authorizing a redevelopment agreement with Heartstone that included $300,000 in relocation assistance. Minutes of the Redevelopment Agency’s Dec. 15, 2005 meeting indicate that commissioners were presented with the Nov. 7 letter from Pelissier to A&M, however, there’s no record of a resolution being approved.
Initially, A&M sought more funds, pointing to similar relocations in Carteret that received between $600,000 and $700,000 in assistance. The company claimed that Pelissier presented its request for additional funds to commissioners and a Dec. 22, 2005 letter to the firm indicated that its request was rejected, with the $300,000 offered previously being “all the funds that will be allocated.” The Redevelopment Agency, however, was unable to find records of executive session minutes going back to 2005.
Park Square, the 159-unit rental complex downtown that was purchased last month, reached a tax appeal settlement with the city in October, which reduced its assessment by more than a third.