March 14, 2022 Plainfield City Council Meeting

A number of residents (yes Jim Spear, that includes you) asked that I provide a summary of the council agenda items so that residents may be better informed about the people’s business that the council is voting on.  I will start providing a summary prior to the council meeting, versus a post meeting recap, as it allows citizens to be aware of items of importance prior to the meeting if they choose to participate and share their thoughts/opinions during the meetings.

Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to share this information much earlier than the Saturday or Sunday prior to the council meetings.  The council receives the agenda and supporting documents between 5 & 6 PM on the Friday prior to the Monday meeting.  The city council president put forth a calendar of combined meetings for all of 2022 (second year in a row). Typically, there would be an agenda setting meeting (a working meeting) to discuss resolutions/ordinances and then vote on whether an item should be placed on the council agenda.  Councilwoman Davis and I tried to get us back to two meetings per month but were unable to do so. We then pushed to move the deadline for the agendas to be completed a week prior to the meetings so that council members had more time to review the many pages of documents and perform any additional research into the issues.  Unfortunately the majority of council members decided that not only were two zoom meetings a month too much work for them but having the agenda and supporting documents prepared a week in advance was too much work for the city – even though they had to do it when we had two meetings a month.  As a result, we have about two days to read through all the resolutions/ordinances and the many pages of supporting documents (redevelopment plans, financial agreements with developers, tax exemption/PILOT agreements, and pro-formas)

This month, because of IT issues, the agenda and packets weren’t received by council members until late Saturday afternoon.

I won’t summarize the entire agenda (that can be found here) – but will instead point out resolutions/ordinances that I think residents may want to be aware of or those that are confusing and that I may be able to help make more understandable.

March Ordinances for Second Vote

Ordinances, unlike resolutions, are required to be read and voted on at two consecutive council meetings for passage.  The first part of any council meeting is to vote on those ordinances that are up for SECOND vote.  The last part is to vote on ordinances that are having their FIRST vote and in between those are resolutions that require one vote to pass.

MC2022-02 – 30 year tax exemption and P.I.L.O.T (Payment In Lieu of Taxes, essentially a tax break to incentivize development) for a development planned at 115-157 East 2nd Street – Currently known as City Parking Lot #6 – behind Bill’s Luncheonette

  • 92 apartments and 4,000 SF of ground floor commercial space with 9 1-BR units for Affordable to Moderate Income residents and 39 1-BR, 39 2-BR and 5 3-BR market rate units.  Will include a parking garage with 225 spaces – 125 designated for public metered parking managed by the city (i.e. city gets parking revenue)

Of interest in this agreement, is the developers $2 Million “Contribution” for the construction of a “pedestrian park” (on North Avenue between Watchung and Park Avenues), closing the area to all traffic, including NJ Transit busses.  “Contribution” basically means “to be fronted by developer and paid for by tax subsidy”.

PILOTS are essentially a tool for cities to incentivize developers to build projects that might otherwise not be financially viable in the short term.  Instead of paying the full regular property tax on the land and the value of the buildings (like homeowners do), the developers pay the full property tax on the land and then they pay a % (which increases periodically) of the projects Annual Gross Revenue (AGR).  PILOTS are not a bad thing – it just depends on how they are structured.

Here are the terms of the PILOT payments for this development:

Years               PILOT % Paid

1 to 5               4% of AGR

6 to 10             5% of AGR

11 to 15           6% of AGR

16 to 20           7% of AGR

21 – 30            8% of AGR

Note the difference in the PILOT fee % for this development versus the others below (one of which is owned by the same developer), clearly this is impacted by the $2 Million “contribution” to the pedestrian park – essentially the citizens are giving this developer a bigger tax exemption just for that “loan”.

MC2022-03 – 30 year tax exemption and PILOT agreement for a development at 1014 South Avenue (property just to east of Netherwood Auto Repair).

  • 5 Story mixed use development with 42 apartments and 1,456 SF of retail space
  • 34 1-BR and 8 2-BR units, with 36 outdoor and 12 indoor parking spaces

Here are the terms of the PILOT payments for this development:

Years               PILOT % Paid

1 to 10             10% of AGR

11 to 15           12% of AGR

16 to 21           12% of AGR or 20% of actual full property tax – whichever is higher

22 to 27           12% of AGR or 40% of full property tax – whichever is higher

28 to 29           12% of AGR or 60% of full property tax amount – whichever is higher

30                    12% of AGR or 80% of full property tax – whichever is higher

MC2022-04 – 30 year tax exemption and PILOT agreement for a development at 201-233 East Front Street.

  • 180 Market rate apartments, 5,000 SF of retail space, 60 1-BR, 75 2-BR and 45 3-BR units
  • 400 parking spaces with 200 for city metered public parking

Years               PILOT % Paid

1 to 10             11% of AGR

11 to 15           12% of AGR

16 to 21           12% of AGR or 20% of full property tax amount – whichever is higher

22 to 25           12% of AGR or 40% of full property tax amount – whichever is higher

26 to 27           13% of AGR or 40% of full property tax amount – whichever is higher

28 to 29           13% of AGR or 60% of full property tax amount – whichever is higher

30                    13% of AGR or 80% of full property tax amount – whichever is higher

MC2022-05 – Ordinance approving interior and exterior improvements, including roof, to the Plainfield Library.  It also reallocates unused bond proceeds ($71,000) to help pay for the costs.

MC2022-06 – Another ordinance to reallocate bond proceeds ($200,000) that were not used or no longer needed for original purpose.  These funds will also be used to pay for improvements at the library

March Resolutions

R126-22 – Designating a portion of Plainfield Avenue from 2nd Street to West 5th Street as Parliament Funkadelic Way.

R141-22 – Resolution endorsing and adopting a Complete Streets policy for Plainfield.  Complete Streets policies improve safety, lower costs and help provide alternatives to cars by encouraging safe and healthy walking and bicycle riding areas – bike lanes or wider shoulders on road.  Areas of focus include Pedestrian Infrastructure, Traffic Calming Measures, Bicycle Accommodations and Mass Transit Accommodations.

Municipal Ordinances on First Reading

MC2022-11 – This ordinance sounds more ominous than it is – it is really just a procedural requirement that must be done each year in order to establish a CAP bank in the event that there is a need to exceed the 2.5% appropriation increase allowed by law.  It does not mean the council is voting to increase the CY2022 budget.  Budget process won’t begin until late March or early April with a final budget vote likely in June 2022.  This requirement has to be done before budget process starts.

2 thoughts on “March 14, 2022 Plainfield City Council Meeting

  1. Bruce Zehnle March 13, 2022 / 10:07 pm

    Wasn’t the Pedestrian Mall on North Ave. discussed in 2018?

    Like

    • SMcKenna March 14, 2022 / 8:12 pm

      It was in 2020 actually and was essentially “canceled” but has come back via a more quiet way of public financing.

      Like

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