Tuesday, August 11, 2015
ABOUT COUNCIL ACTION
Despite Council President Rivers’ rebuttal to my query if political motivation was influencing some of the Council’s decisions there were several possible decisions at the Agenda session that would give on to consider that may be so. Ever since Mayor Mapp had assumed office it has become obvious that there is a majority of Councilors who too often give lip service to Administration proposals but do not support them.
Of the rejected three Administration proposed projects; a resolution creating a training program essentially for 911 operators, an Ordinance creating the position of Motors Manager; and a PILOT program for a South Ave. development the first two will be subject for a follow up blog.
Gloria Taylor complained that she and the Council had been left out of the loop in the discussions on the South Ave upscale apartment project.
Diane Tolliver claimed no one had told the Council about the PILOT or any tax abatement saying if she knew about it, she wouldn't be "sitting up here looking stupid.".
Although this time the support material for the resolutions and ordinances up for discussion on the agenda was not available on line, since they were included in the material available to the public at the meeting and I presumed at the Library; I am sure that all of the Councilors received them by last Friday.
Their packet is extremely large and often at least one Councilor has been suspected of not studying the material for the meeting. However none of those who raised objections as not being informed have never been so tainted. Yet if the material had been read the charge of being bushwacked is ridiculous.
If the objections had been on the length of the PILOT I would have no quarrel with the Councilors who were against the Ordinance. Perhaps better terms for the city that the developer would still find acceptable could be negotiated.
To raise an objection that they were not included in the process is facetious; it is not the Council’s prerogative to do the Administration’s charge of developing projects for the city.
The Council must review and if there is no question approve what is proposed, not create. It can and should recommend changes.
In this instance to claim no knowledge is ‘Clintonese” since the project has been on the table for over a year beginning with a presentation by the developer at which some of the Council were present. The Council had approved in2014 of a redevelopment study for that area. There is only one newcomer on the Council today.
There was a Planning Board meeting the past Thursday in which the agenda listed a presentation for the redevelopment and the next one it is most likely that approval will be given. I failed to notice those concerned objecting Councilors there.
Realistically tax abatements in today’s economic atmosphere are a necessity for upgraded redevelopment. It is the type and terms that are important. 100% tax is unrealistic; reduced tax rate is one possibility but for communities in NJ where a PILOT income goes only to the community and not part to the school system and part to the county is the best solution.
PILOTs were mostly designed for commercial developments rather than residential although both have been the recipients. Plainfield will not be attractive to a commercial or manufacturing development, and must rely on upgraded residential apartments to stay competitive with neighboring communities, or become a slum city.
Plainfield has fallen behind Fanwood, Garwood, and Cranford in the east in adapting to the trend of renters not home buyers among the young generation.
Yes, in view of the past 18 months frequent Council rejection of the Administration’s plans, and the lack of cogent reasoning for any of the Council’s negativism Monday I am forced to conclude that politics played a major role. The public be dammed.