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SPECIAL ALERT: OGWO Member files civil action lawsuit against Township of West Orange, in Superior Court of NJ.
Seeks to overturn the Essex Green/Executive Drive Area in Need of Redevelopment decision, as supported by WO Mayor Parisi, Town Attorney, Richard Trenk, the Town Planning Board, and the Town Council of West Orange. Conflicts of interest cited, as well as Town's condemnation of the shopping center and office buildings as blighted in an effort to provide developers with (likely) tax abatements, and the town with (likely) PILOTs.
Residents have ideas about what Essex Green Shopping Center should bring to our community, and how this new Center should respect our local environment, residents' safety, and our way of life. Our Township Environmental Commission has submitted a letter of recommendations to the Zoning Board. Will the Zoning Board, township administration, and the developer meet these recommendations?
No solar panels planned.
No car charging stations planned.
No commuter hub planned.
No graywater irrigation system planned.
Unnecessary destruction of 148 established trees.
Constructing roadways that are safety hazards for pedestrians.
Limited inclusion of necessary sidewalks.
You can view Clarion's, Corporate Responsibility Report, 2017 here and judge for yourself whether their plans for Essex Green align with CEO David Gilbert's statement that, "sustainability and competitiveness of our properties go hand-in-hand [ and are] embedded throughout our organization."
View Clarion's Traffic Study below and bring your questions to the next Zoning Board meeting, January 31st, 2019 at Town Hall, 8pm!
Zoning Board Meeting, Jan 17, 2019
Residents question Clarion's landscape architect;
West Orange forester presents recommendations
Essex Green Walk 'n Talk, Jan 13, 2019
Join residents as they walk the Essex Green site with the developer's plans in hand. Conversation, questions, & suggestions of what a Town Center should include, not what is currently proposed.
Here is the plan we have all been waiting for: “The 300 Executive Drive Redevelopment Plan.” In preparation for the July 11th presentation at Town Hall, by Mayor Parisi, Town Attorney Richard Trenk, and representatives of the developers themselves, reviewing the plan prior to attending the meeting is recommended.
If you are unable to attend the meeting but have questions or comments you would like to bring up, please do so on the OGWO FB page, or by emailing email@example.com.
An OGWO member will be sure to convey your message or inquiry during oublic comment at the meeting.
On 12/6, the WO Planning Board voted in favor of the RE-development plan for Essex Green Shopping Center, with the Town Council agreeing 4-1, on 1/9/18. (Despite residents' objections.) A move that could potentially impact residential property taxes for years to come.
Residents will have a "fresher" Essex Green Shopping Center, offering stores and restaurants to shop and dine at. As well as office buildings along Executive Drive to attract businesses.
1. Residents do not know exactly what will be at the *new* plaza: Box store, Restaurants, Townhomes...?
2. Town administration is making deals with the developer that could potentially impact residential property taxes for years to come, such as designating it as an "Area in need of Re-Development." (See W.O. Main Street Re-Development Project)
3. With this designation, comes the developer is eligible for tax ABATEMENTS (tax breaks) at an estimated 30% discount over 30-years.
4. Essex Green Shopping Center & Executive Drive is the second largest tax revenue producing source West Orange has. With substantial decreases in tax revenue, residents will absorb the loss through their own property taxes, and a loss in funding to support our municipal services. (Police, fire, schools, roads...)
5. The strategy the Town has taken to move this project forward has created concerns involving conflicts of interest, tenants rights, environmental impact, safety, residential impacts, procedural steps taken, financial promises, PILOTS, a slowing retail market, public use, and much more.
Why do we need a Redevelopment area when the town is already due more than $9 million for selling the property where the current Public Works building is located and when the properties in the redevelopment area are already zoned for a municipal building
Why did Trenk say publicly that Mayor Parisi had recused himself from this redevelopment and then the mayor subsequently posted multiple times on Facebook demonstrating intimate knowledge of the project not known publicly and even stating that he would provide tax abatements only for a municipal purpose?
The Town Council attorney (Mr. Kayser) and the Township Attorney (Mr. Trenk) each told the Town Council that the other had consulted an independent attorney regarding possible conflicts of interest of having a voting Planning Board member (Andrew Trenk) vote on the very plan his father (Richard Trenk) has been pushing. How come an independent attorney wasn’t consulted before the vote took place?
The property owners stand to save millions of dollars in a tax abatement. Under the law, they would negotiate a PILOT that would be much lower than what they would pay on any improvements to the properties. That discount could amount to millions of dollars over 30 years
Do you believe these tenants would locate in a “blighted” area -- national and regional brands that include Panera, AMC, Shoprite, Sears, Petco, Total Wine, Macy’s, Pearle Vision, Xfinity, Gamestop, Coldstone Creamery, SuperCuts, GNC, H&R Block, CitiFinancial, TGI Fridays, a federal agency, Geico, and Lincoln Educational Services?
Mayor Parisi has stated that he has taken campaign money from BNE. (Which is one of the purchasing companies.) Which other families, friends, leasing companies, or any of the companies that may eventually bid on the redevelopment of Essex Green and Executive Dr. have written checks to the Mayor's campaign fund?
This document was received through an OPRA request. Sent by our own town attorney's law partner (Mark Moon) to our very own town attorney (Richard Trenk) to the developers (Clarion, and BNE), the developer's attorney (Francis X. Regan), West Orange business administrator (Jack Sayers), WO Police Chief (Abbott), WO municipal engineer (Len Lepore), WO CFO (John Gross), the developer's leasing agent (RealtyProOnline), and the very planner contracted by the town to write a favorable report to find Essex Green an Area in Need of ReDevelopment.
Relevance: The Town of West Orange had intended to open the door to tax abatements and PILOTs even before it was presented, voted on, or made public. Designating Essex Green as an Area in Need of ReDevelopment was the goal from day one, despite what Mayor Parisi, and his administration stated.
Curious if plans for Essex Green and Executive Drive are still being discussed? They are.
Corporate welfare is not solely a national issue, but continue to occur here in West Orange.
On Wednesday December 18, 2019, 7pm (just as we are distracted by the holiday rush), Mayor Parisi and Twp Attorney Richard Trenk have scheduled a Town Council vote which will subsidize a developer to the tune of $100 million over 30 years.
A wealthy developer (and mayoral campaign contributor) purchased Executive Drive, where they plan to build 425 apartments behind Essex Green. To make more money, the developer wants the taxpayers of West Orange to foot the bill... and the Administration agrees.
The Mayor is asking the Township Council to vote YES on the following plan:
1. Residents and business owners continue to pay 4.1% of the value of their home in property taxes. (Including the recent 8.5% municipal tax increase.)
2. Let the developer of the apartment project pay only 1%, over thirty years.
3. Accept this plan since it comes with a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes)
But, who picks up the tab? You do!
If you are a West Orange taxpayer, you should be very concerned. If you are a public school advocate, you should be very concerned. If you are a local business owner, you should be very concerned. If you are a senior citizen, you should (continue) to be very concerned. If you are an advocate of the current library location, you should be very concerned.
Your presence is needed to object to this massive wealth transfer:
Wednesday December 18, 2019
Town Council Meeting
Town Hall 66 Main Street
There have been questions in the past about who the Township Attorney is working for: Township residents? Or wealthy developers? Let the video speak for itself.
WO Chief Financial Officer explains that the goal is for tax relief for residents in the near and distant future, mainly THIRTY YEARS from now. (i.e. West Orange residents will get lots of tax relief in the year 2050 if this corporate welfare plan goes through.)