PLUMSTED – There will be special meeting dedicated to the PILOT program of Venue at Longview where residents can discuss benefits that they are now no longer eligible for through arrangement between the township and Lennar homes.
The meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on March 20 at Town Hall on Evergreen Road. Lennar residents will be able to voice their concerns and ask questions.
The session will be a workshop meeting and no official action will be taken by the Plumsted Township Committee. Several key people that were involved in the development of the PILOT program are expected to attend to provide answers for the residents.
Earlier in the month, during a Township Committee meeting, resident Dominick Griffo of Temple Road spoke about the Lennar development, called Venue at Longview which is about half complete. The development will be located off of Provinceline Road, accessible on Provinceline (main entrance) or on Jacobstown Road.
Lennar has a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) program for 30 years. The first five years, Lennar will pay a reduced rate based on taxes and then after year five, years six-30 will be at the regular rate.
Griffo read a letter on behalf of Robert and Lorraine Walsh and said he was asking the township’s public officials for help.
“We discovered that we are a party to a contract that was negotiated for over two years between the township and Lennar to develop an over 55 (age) community. I’m sure both sides had great attorneys, financial advisors and both sides walked away knowing the agreement was in their best interests. It appears that Lennar will not have to pay real estate taxes during the construction period,” Griffo added.
“They were able to buy land from the township, a very beneficial transaction. They were able to market a five-year tax abatement which we believe was part of the purchase price,” he said. “The township will be able to declare the area a redevelopment zone.” This would allow for the building “of a much-needed water and sewer system that will support local businesses. Improvements will be financed and the funds needed for the debt service (at least part of) will be accomplished through utilizing the PILOT program which allows the township to collect PILOT funds for 30 years instead of taxes on the buyers of the completed units.”
Griffo said the transaction is a win for Lennar and the township but he brought up a concern for the buyers of the units. “We had an informal meeting last night at the club house to discuss the PILOT program and almost everyone in attendance over 50 people had no idea that they are a party to a financial agreement between the township and Lennar for what is a PILOT program.”
“During the first five years the buyers are getting the benefit – which we believe is for being part of the purchase price for being the party to the financial agreement. What happens after that period? What happens to anyone who buys a unit after that period?” he asked.
“What will be the value of our home? Nowhere were we told that we would not be eligible to apply for the senior freeze (program). We are in an over 55 community, does that make sense? The ANCHOR program deducting payments from our statements means we are not able to file an appeal. This is our community and we need (you) to help the existing owners of the development and just as important, for future owners,” he added.
Griffo concluded reading the letter which called for a meaningful dialogue to address those concerns and to find a resolution. Griffo himself thanked officials for recognizing the need for additional discussion on this program. “I think this information may be relevant to the discussion on the 20th of March.”
He shared a packet of information with the members of the Township Committee. He noted a photograph as part of the package taken a few days prior of a sign at the entrance of the Lennar development advertising the five year tax abatement. “This is clearly a misrepresentation of what the program is.”
Griffo added, “it compounds the fact that members of the community are now ineligible for various benefits that they otherwise might be.”
He said a second document that he shared with the governing body, “is an information sheet that I got off the Plumsted Township website in the MUA (Municipal Utilities Authority) section of the website. This shares information on what a PILOT program is. I don’t know why it would be buried in the MUA section of the webpage and not placed or positioned in a more relevant area?”
The website explanation states in the first paragraph that following “the closing of your home you entered into the PILOT program – payment in lieu of taxes – and will no longer be paying property taxes. Therefore, you will not be eligible for any totally disabled veterans, veterans, Senior Freeze, Homestead Rebate, ANCHOR or other incentive programs.”
“That is alarming for several reasons,” Griffo said.