Mason questions Tarragon abatement transfer
Press release from Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason:
MASON ASTOUNDED AT COUNCIL’S APPROVAL OF TARRAGON ABATEMENT TRANSFER
Tax-Abatement Plan Lacks Documentation
Councilwoman Beth Mason said she was astounded that the city council voted last Wednesday night (Feb. 6) to allow the transfer of a tax abated property from one developer to another even though the governing body lacks critical documentation on the plan agreement and the financial arrangement of the tax abatement.
The Tarragon/URSA project in the Northwest Redevelopment area — a 500 unit housing project — which was previously approved by the council, and which already was awarded tax abatement — will be transferred to the Dutch Company ING Clarion Partners. The council voted Wednesday 6-3 to allow the assignment of a long term tax exemption to the new developer. The developer has also received $5 million in state aid for a portion of the project at 1000 Jefferson Street.
Mason said she voted against the abatement shift because details of the developer’s agreement are missing. She noted that the project was touted by two mayors who made an array of promises about developer contributions to the community in exchange for the tax breaks. The promises included over 2,000 parking spaces (including three public parking garages) a community center, a charter school and retail shopping.
However, Mason noted the agreement as presented to the council is unspecific as to the amenities that must be provided by the developer and gives the council no enforcement mechanism to force the developer to comply.
Read the rest after the jump.
REQUEST FOR DOCUMENT
Before last Wednesday’s meeting, Mason sent a letter to the City Clerk asking for documentation on the Northwest Redevelopment Zone PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) which spells out the details of tax abatement. She had also previously requested such information.
Mason noted to the clerk that during the January 30 meeting of the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development subcommittee: “It was revealed that the city apparently has no copies of a critical document referenced in the Amended Developer’s Agreement dated October 18, 2000. This document, references the missing document as Amended Proposal for Redevelopment.”
Mason said she requested copies of the document, but the planning office could locate no such document. Her vote Wednesday against the abatement transfer was based on that lack of documentation.
“I don’t think it is too much to ask to have the city council and the residents presented with all documents on agreements that are binding on the city,” said Mason. “If private
sector corporations kept records the way the city of Hoboken does, they would be out of business in no time,” she added.
Mason also questioned whether the tax abatement for this project is being used properly. She noted that the developer is using the abatement for a marketing advantage over other builders who lack abatements “I find it disturbing that tax abatement is being used to help the developer market his units,” said Mason.
“I was under the impression that abatements are to be used to attract development or to create a balanced community development plan — not to put more money in the developer’s pocket,” said Mason.