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Commissioners OK Ingerman PILOT Grant, LumberYard Build

As residents air concerns about the build-out for 90 minutes, the mayor defends the project prior to a unanimous vote.

Familiar concerns were echoed among the 60 or so residents who turned out at the Wednesday night special meeting of the Collingswood borough commissioners to discuss the next phase of the LumberYard project.

They wondered aloud whether the project would unsustainably spike parking demands, introduce an undesirable element by inviting more apartment renters to town or create an eyesore that would dominate the downtown skyline.

After all the talk was through, however, the borough leadership approved the pair of ordinances on its docket. One greenlit , and another gave its builders, the , a 25-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) deal.

At the outset of the meeting, Mayor James Maley attempted to head off some objections, which he said were “flat-out dead-wrong, false, not true.”

“At least if we’re going to disagree we can disagree over the same facts,” Maley said.

Maley said that although the Ingerman Group is known for its work in low-income housing projects, the LumberYard project “is not a low-income housing project,” and that the borough had been in talks with the builder to locate its offices to Collingswood prior to its involvement with the LumberYard.

Maley also said that constructing the new building does not represent a change of course in the borough philosophy regarding apartments. Rather, he said the project has been intended as a means to increase the Collingswood tax base.

“The only way you get more retail is to have more rooftops that are oriented to that avenue,” he said. “Residential on that downtown is a way to help keep the vibrancy.

“We’ve never had an initiative to discourage apartment buildings; we’ve run out of space to build them,” he said.

Ingerman will pay 80 percent of the taxes owed on the property in the first two years of the PILOT agreement, 85 percent three years in, and an additional 3 percent annually by year 10. At some point, Maley said, those revenues would be shared with the Collingswood school district.

“The reduction in the tax payment is to incentivize a development,” he said. “This is a $15 million investment.”

Maley said that any elementary-school-aged children who moved into the apartment complex would attend , which has typically small classes, and that “the high school has the room” to accommodate any additional children who would attend as a result of renting an apartment in the new building.

“It won’t increase your taxes,” Maley said. “If you have 20 kids who come from there and they’re at all different grade levels, it’s not going to increase your costs.”

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Maley said. “It’s also a reason why you wouldn’t move in there with kids.”

Still, even after 90 minutes of dialogue, some critics of the plan couldn’t be convinced.

Resident Joe DiNella vowed that he would be leading a pair of petitions to repeal both measures on the docket for the Commissioners

“This is sick,” DiNella said. “Density doesn’t solve problems. Twenty-five-year tax abatements don’t solve problems.”

Matt Skoufalos July 29, 2012 at 04:56 PM
That could have been clearer on my part, Shirley. Maley was saying that the apartment complex is really intended as a commuter village, and that people moving in there with kids are not the ideal intended renters despite the belief that they would not put any undue pressure on the school system.
collingswood resident July 29, 2012 at 05:15 PM
One Road Town: There is no On site lumberyard office and no one named Kurt works or lives here. Pat is right. We also live in the lumberyard and our monthly fee is $250 as stated. What I find amusing it that people like to comment and share wrong information but don't attend the meetings. It was shameful that from the whole town of Collingswood only 60 people showed up. Lots of information was provided at that meeting but some didn't share all that they heard and twisted information around and the majority of the down didn't even bother to show up.
One road town July 31, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Collingswood Resident and Pat Kelly: What I find 'amusing' and 'interesting' is that any topic of the Lumber Yard out comes the attitude from internet donkeys like yourself. There seemingly can never be an exchange of simple info anymore. I took the time of finding out if DMJ's claim of "$500" condo fee was true and as it turned 'Curt' stated that they were indeed not that, but the stated fee of $328. Maybe your right that it's a different fee, but your attitude sure is not in par. I was merely following up, which obviously went over the both of your heads. Obviously I need to restate, again: I have no agenda, pro or con toward the Lumber Yard. It's an interesting topic for the ENTIRE townspeople. Why is the concept of social media and local forums so hard for people to grasp?
david g July 31, 2012 at 03:20 AM
The on sitee office has been closed for over two years. The Lumberyard sales are all handled by Mainstreet Realty. Since they are paying the condo fees I would think they would know what they are paying. Social media is a great tool for all the townspeople and buyers when the info posted is accurate. Not used for name calling.
Gary B August 01, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Thanks david g, for your insightful reiteration.

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