HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Last year, the Hamilton Township Committee hired Jim Maley of the firm of Maley Givens Counselors at Law to help the governing body develop a redevelopment plan for the township due to its expertise in that area. Maley also serves as mayor of Collingswood, a town noted for its redevelopment success.
On August 20 of last year, the entire township was designated as an “Area in need of Rehabilitation.” Under the state’s five-year exemption and abatement law the designation allows the township to offer tax exemptions and abatements for residential, commercial and industrial property improvements.
At a meeting held on Monday, March 11, designed to inform the public about the program, Maley explained the details and how property-owners can benefit.
“This program is designed to attract new businesses and residents to Hamilton Township,” Maley said. “It will create jobs for township residents, provide incentives for homeowners and business owners to make improvements, minimize and improve vacant, abandoned or underutilized properties and expand the tax base.”
“It allows short-term incentives to create long-term benefits. It will reduce the property tax burden for township residents.”
“Neighboring towns are already offering these incentives. This is needed in order to level the playing field and remain competitive.”
Under the proposed plan, improvements to residential dwellings more than twenty years-old, multiple dwellings, commercial and industrial properties can qualify for tax exemptions and abatements. It also applies to construction of new commercial and industrial buildings.
Mayor Art Schenker cited an example of why the plan is needed.
“Lidl Supermarkets invested $700,000 to build here,” he said. “However, they changed their minds due to the lack of tax incentives.”
“Our economy is built on retail development. A recent reassessment of Hamilton Mall will hit us hard this year and next. This is intended to attract more commercial development.”
Schenker pointed out that Outback Steakhouse and Burlington Coat Factory will soon be relocating to Hamilton Township.
“What is the township’s vision,” resident Marge Gosin asked. “Retail stores are closing nationally. Malls are being turned into nursing homes and other types of facilities. We need to attract stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Gosin said she has contacted their corporate offices and they have expressed no interest in the area.
“This plan sends up a flare saying that Hamilton Township is ready to do business,” Maley said. “These stores will come if they see additional rooftops on Google Maps.”
Deputy Mayor Roger Silva said that there are large parcels ripe for development.
“We have 254 acres available at the Atlantic City Race Course site and 80 acres where Zaberer’s used to be located,” he said. “We have also given away much land to the state for environmental purposes.”
Hamilton Township Tax Assessor William Johnson pointed out that Hamilton Township and Egg Harbor City are the only towns in Atlantic County to offer tax incentives to residential property owners.
The governing body is expected to introduce an ordinance in the next month to make the program official.