Sunday, August 24, 2008


Although, due to the shifting of the tax burden to property owners, I have been primarily concerned about the number of "tax exempt" properties in Plainfield as well as those that have had other abatements or perks, because of the recent postings on "Group Homes" I have also tried to list those that fall in that category.

There are approximately 6 full pages in the Assessor’s Tax Books listing tax exempt properties. After a visual scan approximately 240 are non government owned properties. The latter (government) included municipal, county, state, and federal properties as well as Authorities (IE: PMUA, Sewer), and Railroads.

This table (which is subject to corrections and additions) is an incomplete listing of “Group Housing”. Not all of those listed are designed for the disable or are "half way houses", but many are for the "homeless". Also I seemed to have missed the Park Hotel during my rapid scanning of the tax records. This facility should fall into the classification as a halfway house for the psychological impaired.

Of interest are the number of units (condos) in the converted Miron and Tepper’s buildings to Senior Citizen Low Cost Housing for which they had received tax abatements.

Assoc Retarded Citizens 2

Bogard 5
Calvery Babtist Church(Houses) 2

Creative Property Management 6
Interfaith Council for Homeless 17

Convent Methodist Church Senior Housing 4

Volunteers of America 1


Of the other approximately 197 properties most are “church” related although some are non public schools, health facilities including the MR MC campus and owned houses, Hartwyck (Solaris) nursing home as well as Senior Citizen low cost housing. Those that are not operated by municipal, state or federal agencies include the Cederbrook Park Apartments, and United (?) Plainfield Housing at Plainfield Ave and Seventh.

There are , including former Mayor Rick Taylor's, about 25 disable veterans' homes deservedly on the list.

I have not looked up the various tax abatement grants given by the city to developers or garden apartment operators.

The total number of units in the various garden apartments and high risers that have received some form of tax abatement's have not been calculated nor entered individually into the mix, but they are all a drain on the city’s resources.

For instance, in response to its automated fire protection system,the ARC property on Knollwood Ct. has had on an average at least 8 full fire department responses per year. I have no idea about any responses to the other group homes or if they are required to have similar systems.. With the closing of MRMC there will be a greatly increased cost in emergency health services.

It is a combination of all the above that justifies Assemblyman Greens concerns about Plainfield bring a dumping ground. We should be receptive for any possible remedy that conforms to present laws. Most of the public concerns are twofold; fear from misunderstanding of the unknown, and potential reduction in property value.

Plainfield's position could have been strengthened if there had been greater political and civilian civic pride than has been apparent the last few years. If the Feds or the State have program funding to keep the residents of non disable group housing occupied and not loitering on the streets, this community has been remiss in not seeking and applying those grants, Research into this matter is essential.

Our politicians should look into the total number of residents in the group homes. If the population in 2000 was 47.4K then according to the 0.5% legal maximum the total in all should not exceed 239 residents. That can be the only legal basis of prohibiting new "group homes" that I am aware. I do not know if the homeless are included in the 0.5% limit.

Any error in the data presented can be due to my “doctor’s handwriting" which at times even I have difficulty interpreting. Also there may be some slight numerical errors which may have inadvertently occurred. I understand that I have just touched on the tip of the iceberg. However the overall data is reflective of a serious problem about which the Assemblyman belatedly commented.

1 comment:

  1. The problem of "dumping" on Plainfield is not new--many Plainfielders have been aware of it for years. Assemblyman Green has spoken about it for as long as I can recall--his blog is recent, of course, but his concern is not, and while he has been helpful in many cases, the law (as you correctly point out) has hampered efforts to do anything about it. Let's hope that the new state legislation which he sponsored will have a positive impact.

    Plainfield's circumstances have been the prime enablers: low real estate prices compared with other area communities and lax code enforcement over the years have made Plainfield an "ideal" location for non-profits (as well as for-profits) to get great value for their real estate dollars--it's "market forces" at work.

    Having grown up poor--and having worked professionally with those serving the disabled--I am quite aware of the needs that exist. But the concentration of such facilities in cities that have enough problems as it is is simply wrong--it's a way for more affluent communities to put their problems out of sight (and out of mind) while increasing the burden on less affluent areas. Now, with the closing of MRMC by Solaris, Plainfield's problems have been compounded--and life has been made more difficult for everyone here, including those with special needs.

    This country needs a lot more affordable housing--and more facilities for the disabled--but filling that need should be a shared obligation; lower real estate prices should not be the determining factor in where such facilities are located. Plainfield has more than its "fair share" of affordable housing as it is, and while I don't dispute the need, I agree that we should not be bearing that burden for the rest of the area.