21 Aug 2014
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PILOT Program Could Be Stifled By Ordinance Repeal

Bloomingdale Council majority may vote to repeal redevelopment zone ordinance that permits Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for AvalonBay.

PILOT Program Could Be Stifled By Ordinance Repeal

In what Bloomingdale Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy has labeled as the council majority's "last shot against Bloomingdale," the Republican majority may vote Tuesday to repeal the ordinance that classifies the AvalonBay site as a redevelopment zone and allows a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program to be offered for the luxury apartment developer.

If the ordinance is repealed, a redevelopment zone would once again need to be approved before disucssion on entering into a PILOT agreement could be put back on the table for the under-construction development that is bringing 174 apartment rental units to the borough.

"In their lame duck session, [the council majority] just can't bow out gracefully, as they must take one last shot against Bloomingdale," Dunleavy, a Democrat, said in an email. "How do these people sleep at night?"

The negotiated PILOT program would grant the borough a minimum payment of $550,000 per year, expected to grow by at least 2 percent each year, for 30 years. AvalonBay would make quarterly payments at the same time that residents and business owners pay taxes, but would not pay normal taxation, which is split between the municipality, county and school district. Through the PILOT program, the school district would not receive money from the payments, but the municipality would recoup the bulk of the benefit, bringing in 95 percent of the money while the county receives 5 percent.

Republican Councilwoman Linda Shortman said she did not recommend the ordinance repeal item be placed on Tuesday's council meeting agenda, but she does agree that perhaps the redevelopment zone ordinance, approved by the council in September, should be repealed.

"In hindsight, after the ordinance passed and I supported it and after I read about the PILOT and I knew what the conditions were about the PILOT is when I decided that this was not appropriate for this piece of property," Shortman said.

Shortman said she now feels she should not have supported the redevelopment zone ordinance at the time and that the ordinance to repeal it may solidify her position at this point. She said Councilwoman Jo-Ann Pituch may have recommended the ordinance for the agenda.

Pituch said Wednesday she did not wish to comment on the ordinance until after Tuesday's meeting.

Dunleavy said that if the ordinance were repealed and the borough were to start the process again, taxpayers would have to foot the bill of the planning and design work needed to move ahead. He also said he felt Bloomingdale voters proved they were in favor of the PILOT program by two newcomer Democrats, to the council earlier this month. Republican Pituch was unseated.

"I'm angry, it's terrible. It's absolutely going against what the voters wanted," Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy said he will encourage the public to speak on the repealing ordinance and also inquire about who authored the ordinance that may be introduced Tuesday. If the ordinance is passed on final adoption by the end of this year, he said the ordinance approving the redevelopment zone again could be reintroduced next year.

But Shortman, who will remain one of two Republicans on the council in the new year, alongside Mark Conklin, does not favor the redevelopment zone for AvalonBay.

"I just don't support this particular site for this particular ordinance," she said.

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