Board must review abatement bill before passage

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — While a public hearing on an ordinance offering residents and small businesses tax abatements for improving their properties has been postponed until the middle of March, officials say that this is just due to procedural reasons, since they must wait for comments by the Planning Board.

At the Feb. 12 City Council meeting, officials introduced an ordinance which will allow people to apply for a five-year tax abatement on improvements to their properties.

Residents can receive up to a $25,000 abatement, and businesses up to $100,000.

For example, if a home was assessed at $400,000, and a resident made improvements that raised its assessment to $425,000, they could apply to the city’s tax offices to pay taxes as if their home was still assessed at $400,000.

A public hearing on the ordinance was scheduled for the Feb. 26 meeting, but had to be delayed.

The reason is that this abatement ordinance is being done in a way that involves Long Branch zoning law. Before any ordinance that involves zoning is passed, the council must hear input from the Planning Board.

Municipalities can only grant abatements in certain circumstances. One of those is if an area is declared in need of rehabilitation, as some of the redevelopment zones in the city have been.

The criteria for what constitutes an area in need of rehabilitation are fairly broad, including details such as the average age of buildings and infrastructure. This ordinance says that all of Long Branch’s zoning areas meets the criteria, so can receive these abatements.

The Planning Board had not had a chance to review the ordinance before the Feb. 26 meeting, so the public hearing and adoption was postponed until the March 25 meeting, so the board can examine and comment on it.