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A Graduate of the Real Estate Institute (GRI), Lisa Mary Hanley, a Realtor® serving the community for over 25 years, puts her expertise as a Certified Residential Professional (CRP), an Internet Accredited (e-Pro), and pledge of personal attention to the details to work for you in every transaction. “Trust a Professional with your Most Important Investment!”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Washington Twp News Update - Washington Square on Hold!

Dodged the bullet.  Mr. DelBorello made a motion to withdraw the first reading of the Ordinance to approve the Financial Agreement on the Washington Square Redevelopment by Atkins Development.  Because the requested documentation was not provided by the Developer, including the School Impact Study, all attending Council members voted Yes to withdraw.  What that means is that if the Atkins Development/trading as Washington Square Urban Renewal, L.L.C. wants to continue with the project, it must run through all phases of Council approval.

There was also an award ceremony for two WT Police Officers for exemplary achievement in Gloucester County's Supervision School.

And, yipee skippee, we have a new Municipal Clerk - Let's all warmly welcome Mary Lou Bergh!
The remainder of the meeting was routine and, since it was videotaped, can be seen on channel 9 next Wednesday @7.

Oh, and I had to put in my two cents - My pet peeve WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, A MUNICIPALITY WITH OVER 55,000 RESIDENTS, THE LARGEST MUNICIPALITY IN GLOUCESTER COUNTY NEEDS OUR OWN POST OFFICE.  Got nothing but resistance and lame excuses from the entire Council as well as the Mayor.  Seems the major stumbling block is that there are too many Washington Townships, but Gloucester Township is Blackwood, Monroe Township is Williamstown, etc.  I live in Washington Township, not Sewell or Sicklerville, or Glassboro, or Williamstown - this should be done.  I think I will send Mr. Andrews, he's looking for votes, a letter.  Sad that I can't go to my municipal government for support.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Washington Square in Washington Township

Got a call from Washington Township Council President Morley yesterday, after a couple of emails, who said that the documentation relative to the financial end of  Washington Square, the multi-use project down by Virtua on Hurfville/Cross Keys road in Washington Twp that is scheduled to be part of the PILOT (Profit in Lieu of Taxes) will be available for anyone to look over and will be in the Clerk's office.  There will also be an overview of the developer's plan there to look at and copy as well. 

The actual construction plan for the phases is on the Washington Township website under the zoning tab.  It outlines the different phases, what will be part of the phase but not the order in which the phases will be built, nor the exact builds. 

Mr. Morley did say that, although the first reading was already done, the public hearing must be advertised so it should not be able to slip under the radar. 

He also said that the impact study relative to how the project will affect Washington Township schools had not yet been received but he did say that they are working with the Washington Township School Board to formulate a plan to use part of the "Profit" to reimburse for tuition since the PILOT funds go directly to Township and there is a Tax Abatement for 25-30 years.  No monies will go to the School portion (56% of our taxes) of what a typical taxpayer expend in real estate taxes.  However, he said that there is an objection to what the Washington Township School Board figures for cost of individual students per year.  Basic math - School budget divided by number of students equals cost per student!!  And, don't forget, the Teachers in Washington Township are working without a Contract.

Make it a point to know what is going on BEFORE it is a mute point.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Apartments - Tax Abatement - Township? Why?

I think I'm loosing my mind!  Why, on God's green earth does Washington Township need to entice the development of a prime piece of real estate with a form of a 20 year Real Estate Tax Abatement!  I know that these tough economic times has taken it's toll on construction, BUT, Washington Township still is a much sought after area.  I know, I sell Real Estate - Township Sells!  Look around, people, there IS new construction being built and sold throughout Gloucester County - put out there that this piece is available and test the waters before you give away the farm.  Definitely, Township needs to do something to help lower taxes, but, I cannot see this project doing that.

I will give you a little history later, but here are my objections, so far, to this project:

The tax abatement is in the form of revenue in lieu of real estate taxes.  Essentially, the Township is going into a partnership with the Developer.  The developer can offer the rents at a reduced rate since the taxes are 0 and potentially attract tenants.  What is that going to do to the existing businesses and  centers, already with so many vacancies.  This subdivision is being built non-profit, but non-profit does not mean that the Board works for free or that anyone has oversight on the salaries/costs/expenses of the non-profit except the board itself.  So essentially are we depending on the honesty of the Board of Directors of the Non-Profit?  If this is the case, I do have a problem.

The strain on the schools is obvious.  The proposal was made with some study being quoted that the apartments would not burden the School District.  Who needs a study?  I will be calling the School Board and asking the transportation department how many kids come out of the condos and apartments (2) already in Township.  If I'm pleasantly surprised, I will most definitely apologize.

The project is being built in stages with the most lucrative, my opinion, the apartments and strip center first.  I say most lucrative because the apartments are going to rent in a snap and the strip center tenants, if able to get in cheaply, should go as well.  What guarantees do we get that the remainder of the project, (the townhomes that do not get the abatement and the offices that will attract a desirable, job-creating professional location) will be built.  What happens if the Developer pulls out, or at worst, declares bankruptcy.  Township is left holding the bag in my opinion.  Remember the subdivision down on Egg Harbor - the builder just disappeared before he completed the project and it was 10 years until the project was complete!  If there are hardcore guarantees in the proposal, I'll consider changing my mind.

Washington Township cannot afford to be duped.  I hope to be able to see the details of the project before the public hearing. 
A little history - There was a small article in the Washington Township Times last week, but there was a go forward to public hearing on a Major Project to be built in the Township down by Virtua.  The project includes 330, yes 330 apartments, townhomes, Office Space and Strip stores.  The project is a variation of one that was put before powers to be several years ago and shelved at the time.  This project comes, as it is today, with a 20 year tax abatement.   This tidbit was brought to Council's attention by a concerned citizen about the strain it would put on schools, police, and most municipal services, and it sparked a heated debate.  On one end of the spectrum one very informed gentleman defended the project as it stands offering that enrollment in schools are declining and the multi-family housing does not actually add very much to school rolls and it will bring jobs to town.  On the other end of the spectrum, a gentleman absolutely refuted every aspect of the project.  His opinion, and he also has impeccable credentials, absolutely refutes that the project will not affect strain on schools, is not a true "ratable" tax income project and will mostly bring retail clerk type employment opportunities.  He questioned the footprint of the plan that eliminated the open space that could be used by all residents of town.  He felt it was a poor use of this parcel of ground and did not benefit the town either in the short or long term.   A third gentlemen questioned the builder's status and it was reported that they qualify for the abatement because they had filed as a non-profit.  He also questioned how the project was scheduled - apartments and strip first stage.  As an aside, this is important because the townhomes are not part of the abatement and the offices do generate professional employment opportunities.  Another point this gentleman brought up was that the newspaper article alluded to the fact that the construction would bring jobs to town and he disputed that the workforce would, in fact, be the developers construction crews.

A few of us lingered after the meeting and spoke to Council President.  He explained that the abatement is not total absolution of real estate taxes, but that under this pilot program, the town would receive a percentage of the revenue in lieu of real estate taxes.  He did not know the ratio of revenue to valorium real estate tax.  When questioned about the potential not receiving anything on vacant units, since the  project has not been presold, he did say that there was a factor in for that but did not know what that percentage was off hand.  Earlier we had asked when the public hearing would be and it has not yet been scheduled and when it is it will be reported in the newspaper.  The original lady was pretty vocal about how little attention something this important received.  She said she “knew more about hoagie sales in Town than this.”   I will try to stay on top of that for us.  And, finally, when asked if there was any way we could see a copy of the proposal to be able to question from knowledge at the public hearing, the President said he would check with the Township Solicitor to see if it could be posted on the Township Website.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Washington Twp Budget concerns for Mayor Wallace

I went to Mayor Wallace's meet and greet last night.  

I went because I had several questions concerning the budget and the proposed $6.9 Million dollar bond proposition.  My main concern was how this bond would affect taxes beyond 2012, since only a down payment was figured into this year's budget.  Good news, some existing debt service will be paid off in 14, 15 which will probably even out the repayment of the new bond.   

Mayor Wallace pointed out that there really has not been Plan in the Town for many years and that is why there are so many "Infrastructure" issues so we are now being forced to play catch up to get these repairs done. My personal opinion is that with interest rates so reasonable, now is the time to fund these projects. 

I also wanted to know what areas the bond was going to repair.  This bond is a multi-faceted project, long-term project.  It will not only be repairing roads, but will address other vital issues.  The road repairs are mostly in Wedgwood/Wedgwood Forest, Whitman Square, Nob Hill and Sirius Ct.  There is also going to be erosion issues addressed in various parts of Town as well as drainage issues, a wall to be built at Irvin Lake, a culvert in Spring Lake and a flooding issue addressed on Stable Dr in Windy Acres.  Township has made application to FEMA to fund the Stable Dr flooding and is in "Tier 1" on their list this year.  Nothing is guaranteed but it is hopeful that FEMA will fund that repair.

It will also add vehicles to the Municipal truck fleet.  I have a copy of the Capital Infrastructure Report if anybody wants a copy, email me. 

At the Council meeting last week, it was reported that Township revenues were down.  My question was that since the major revenue is from taxes, and even if the actual taxes were not paid by homeowners the Township does sell tax certificates, why was the revenue down.  I was told that many of the tax certificates were not sold this year (Birches West in particular and vacant land as well) and that there are 300 tax appeals on the books this year. 

I also asked if the Police contract negotiations were over and, unfortunately, that issue is still unresolved.  I was told that they were very close but could not come to a resolution on buyback of sick time? or the retro-pay issue since the police have been working without a contract for some time.  I think I remember they said since '09. 

One of the work session that came out of the Council meeting last week resulted in good news.  The original budget was calling for a 2 cent tax increase, but they wrapped something into something (above my pay grade) but the result is that the increase now looks like a penny. 

I also have a copy of the budget that the Mayor presented to Council last week that is now under review by the different departments.  I have a copy if anyone wants a copy, email me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shred those Docs - Washington Township, NJ

Picked up a pamphlet at the library the other day, reminding me that Washington Township is sponsoring the "Third Shred Day Event" at the Washington Lake Park.  The shredders will be there from 9am till noon, on Saturday, April 24th for Washington Township residents (they will ask for ID).  They will accept bags and/or boxes (4 box/car max) of paper to be shredded and it will happen in Parking Lot J (Greentree Road).  And, 1 00% of the shredded material will be recycled.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Washington Township Budget

I see that the Mayor has delayed her budget proposition until the April 11th Council meeting.  Her reasoning was that there was a delay in the Police contract negotiation.  Gee, that is funny, I proposed the same question to the School Board last week.  They passed a budget and there is no resolution to the Teacher contract issue.  Spoke to one of the Board members and was informed that since the teachers (who are still working without a contract with no end in sight until at least May/June) salary figure is not a real number, they use a figure based on the previous contract to come up with a budget.

There are yard signs all over Washington Township calling for Time to Settle, and, yes it is.  My concern is that all sides deal fairly.  I am so tired of the politically slanted arguments put forth by both sides.  Peel back the layers of the onion and get down to the issues and make it Time to Settle.  Washington Township is going backwards politically.  We long-time Washington Township residents remember, and don't want it again. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

FHA Refinance - Can It Save You Money?

In early March, FHA revised its guidelines for refinancing your current FHA backed mortgage with new FHA financing.  Many people are trying to be financially responsible by reducing their mortgage interest rate to today's even lower rates, however, because of the way FHA has structured the new Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) rate which are based on WHEN your original mortgage was made, the reduction in your interest rate may not reduce your total savings significantly enough to make the costs associated with the refi worthwhile.

The greatest benefit of the new guidelines seems to be for owners who placed their FHA mortgage prior to 5/31/09.  It would be worth a phone call* to your current lender to make the inquiry or shop rates with reputable lenders. 

If your loan was placed between 6/1/09 and 10/3/10, the revised guidelines may not make it feasible to refi with an FHA backed product.  Your lender can give you an estimate of your new monthly payment and compare your existing mortgage payment with the projected mortgage payment.

In either case, and any time you are shopping for mortgage products, make sure your get the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) from your prospective lender.  The APR takes all miscellaneous costs associated with your loan into consideration, and will be higher than the rate of interest you will actually be paying on your loan, but allows you to compare apples to apples.  If your lender will not give you an APR - move along.

And, don't forget, if you are thinking about an all out move, give me a call!

*a word of warning, though, don't authorize a credit check until you have settled on a lender since every credit check has a detrimental affect on your credit score.