Hotel Tax Revenue Numbers

We just received the Hotel Tax revenue numbers from our CFO.

Hotel Occupancy Tax

The 2019 hotel tax revenue (excluding December) is $830,425.44.

This amount represents an approximately 29.4% increase over the final 2018 number of $641,689.32.  And will rise when December numbers are added into the mix.

Property Tax Increase

The prior parking lot in this space brought in a mere $18,819 in yearly tax revenue and is projected to grow to $1,600,000 in 2019.

Additional Revenue

The Township also realized approximately $381,000 in building permit fees.

The Selective Call For Strict Enforcement

Yesterday, I deleted a posting that conflated a Board of Adjustment approving variances, with the act of spot zoning.  Sadly, this is common retort, sometimes from those that do not understand the nature of zoning rules and other times, from those trying to cast aspersions on the process.

Since it provided very little information and clouded the issue, I thought a post on the topic may make fore a better, more informed discussion.
(In the interest of transparency, you can see his post here)

Do variances ignore zoning?

The short answer is: No.  Variances don’t ignore zoning;  they are fundamentally an inextricable part of the system.

Want proof?  Let’s start in September of 1948, as additional land in the State Street area was starting to open for development.

Ordinance 878: An Ordinance Amending and Supplementing an Ordinance Entitled:

An Ordinance limiting and restricting to specified districts and regulating therein buildings and structures according to their construction and the volume and extend of their use; Regulating and restricting the height, number of stories and size of buildings and other structures, regulating and restricting the percentage of lot occupied, the size of yards, courts and other open spaces, the density of population; Regulating and Restricting the location, use, and extent of use of buildings and structures for trade, industry and other purposes; Establishing a Board of Adjustment; And Providing Penalties for the violation thereof. (emphasis added)

Notice that the establishment of a Board of Adjustment is part of the zoning ordinance?

That’s important to note.

In passing the zoning ordinance dealing with density, height and various other aspects, council knew that there were going to be times that a strict adherence would be against the property rights of some owners — and took measures to deal with that potentiality.

Dr. Haggerty thought the very fact that Council had established in this ordinance a Board of Adjustment indicated that they did not expect it would be perfect and problems could be brought before this Board. He noted that Teaneck has a reputation throughout the country as being a township of home owners. He felt this ordinance tended to “upgrade” certain sections of the Township.” (emphasis added)

Mayor Brett also stated that this ordinance was probably not perfect, but that it was a step in the right direction, that the Council were honestly trying to do the best thing for the Township as they see it, and if it does need revision, there is the Board of Adjustment and the Courts.” (emphasis added)
– Minutes of 9/7/48 on the passage of Ordinance 878

Role of the Zoning Board of Adjustment

The zoning board of adjustment was created by our zoning ordinance, as an independent quasi-judicial body.  The board hears evidence and decides, based on testimony, whether or not a requested variance is appropriate.  Most important to note is that when they decide, they are acting in accordance with the procedure that created the zoning laws.

There are many criticisms of applications before the board of adjustment and this post is not about the merits (or lack thereof) of any particular critique.

But there is no question, that the board of adjustment was created to deal with exceptions.
Nor is there a question that future exceptions were contemplated when the zoning laws were drafted.

“[T]he men and women who come Teaneck and build or buy their homes have created the value on this piece of land… and they are the ones who are entitled to consideration. He stated he did not know if he was in favor of the ordinance as it stands, but that he might want to see it changed somewhat. He believed there could be zones where exceptions to the stringent regulations could be accepted, and for that reason he would like to consider the ordinance more before he passed on it.” (emphasis added)
Councilman Milton Votee

“Councilman Votee agreed with Councilman Deissler that the home owner is the one who owns most of the land and should therefore be the one to be considered. He said he would vote for the ordinance tonight with the understanding exceptions can be made.” (emphasis added)
– Minutes from the hear of Ordinance 878

A Sordid History

When it comes to claims of strict enforcement of zoning, many times, advocates focus on specific zoning rules, ignoring the relief valves that were intentionally created by them.  One extreme example residents may remember occurred in the 70’s when opposition to a synagogue located in a residential zone grew to a fever pitch.

In 1974, when Beth Aaron was denied a variance for a synagogue on Queen Anne Road by the Board of Adjustment, the Court found they acted inappropriately.  The decision to appeal deadlocked 3-3, with one of the dissenting votes, Martin Cramer, stating, “the best reason not to appeal was that such a move could endanger the entire zoning code.”

A few years later, in 1979, when a Rinat Yisroel wanted to obtain a variance, some 200 letters came pouring in from residents, urging the Council to interfere with the variance process.  Residents insisted that the township “uphold[] the laws “which were written to protect my personal and property rights”, as per a statement from Mayor Hall.

The Mayor also went on in response:

“To begin with, the laws which were written to protect a citizen’s personal and property rights are the same laws that created the Board of Adjustment.  This statutory board has an obligation, among others, to determine whether strict observance of the zoning ordinance is unfairly depriving a property owner of the use of his property.

If the Council were to announce that it will not approve any variance for a house of worship on a sub-standard lot in a residential area, as this letter requests, then the Board of Adjustment could discontinue hearing any applications for such variances. The only problem is that the Council probably would end up as a defendant in a court case — charged with violating the very laws we are being called upon to uphold.” (emphasis added)
– Statement of Mayor Frank Hall on 5/22/79

There’s an old legal aphorism that goes, “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”
When someone tells you that the Board of Adjustment isn’t respecting the zoning, they are pounding that table.
You can point out to them, that not only is the point of the board of adjustment to fix issues with the zoning law when appropriate — the law they want to stringently control the use of land is in fact the same law that created the board they are trying to ignore.

A Developing Story in Teaneck

I took this picture this morning at the corner of State Street and Teaneck Road.

In the foreground on the left is the pre-war apartments by Lozier Place.
On the right in the background is 1500 Teaneck Road.

Both appear very similar in height and other than the new materials, neither looks like a stark departure from what is already found in the area.

The 1500 Teaneck Road project (see schematics here) will add approximately $1,160,000 in taxes each year, with additional money going towards municipal open space.

It will also create 23 new affordable housing units (1-bedroom (4), 2-bedroom (14) and 3-bedroom (5).

It will also contain 435 parking spaces.

(additional info can be found here)

Of note is the previous condition of 1500 Teaneck Road.  Notice the numerous broken windows in the dilapidated structure that lined the neighborhood for years and years.

This is a wonderful addition to the community, will create foot traffic for our business districts and make Teaneck a more desirable place to live.

Interesting Land Use Decision in Englewood

In 431 E Palisade Avenue Real Estate, LLC, et al. v. City of Englewood, a Federal Judge just ruled that the city of Englewood is not permitted to enforce its zoning rules, because plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits at trial of showing that the City’s Zoning Ordinances violate the Fair Housing act, thereby rendering them unconstitutional.  The current zoning rules  do not permit assisted living and memory-care facilities in the regular residential zones (R-AAA), which plaintiffs claim is discriminatory. Continue reading “Interesting Land Use Decision in Englewood”

Regional Symposium on Deer Management

Earlier this month, elected officials and mayors from the region met to discuss deer management at a regional symposium featuring wildlife biologists from the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Coverage of the event can be found here:
Deer Dilemma Forum: Lethal vs. Non-Lethal Options Discussed
Additional coverage: Pascack Press.

Here is a video of the presentation from last December and the slides from the 6/5/19 presentation can be found below. Continue reading “Regional Symposium on Deer Management”

A forum on development

Thank you to all those that created this opportunity (as well as those that came out last night), to discuss the best way to move our township forward and meet the needs of our future.

Here is the video of last night’s event for those that weren’t able to attend.

(The forum was held by the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee not the Township.

Live streaming and the video were provided by Allison Davis.)

 

Teaneck BOE: Independent Demographic Study of Impact of New Development

Teaneck BOE: Independent Demographic Study of Impact of New Development

The Teaneck Board of Education hired Whitehall Associates, Inc. to conduct an independent analysis of the effects of new development on the Teaneck Schools.  The analysis (available below) projects enrollment based on particular projects and to the overall school system through the 2023-24 school year.  Some of the numbers are projections (as the pre-k and K classes haven’t been born yet), but the rest are based on trends and the scientific methodology is outlined in the report and consistent with NJDOE practices.

From the Report:

  • Whitehall Associates, Inc. is considered a qualified demographer by the New Jersey Department of Education
  • Whitehall Associates, Inc. states that the demographic report it prepared for the Teaneck Board of Education was prepared in
    compliance with the appropriate law and administrative code.
  • Bernard Piaia, at the NJDOE Office of School Facilities, has agreed to accept this report for review and consideration, if it is submitted in its complete final form, with an original signature, along with the NJDOE cohort survival worksheets for the Long Range Facility Plan.\
  • The original of this report is on electronic file at the offices of Whitehall Associates, In c. and is available for examination by the appropriate
    authorities.
  • Whitehall Associates was retained by the Teaneck Board of Education to prepare a demographic study for the Teaneck Public School District. The information in this demographic report is suitable for inclusion in any document to be forwarded to the New Jersey Department of Education for matters concerning school facilities.

 

For those that want the bottom line up front:  The Teaneck school enrollment number for total students in 2018-19 is currently 3,504 students.

In 2023-24, that number is projected to be 3,599 students.  An increase of 95 students across 13 grades.


The Independent Demographic Analysis Report

(comments in blue appear in the report itself) Continue reading “Teaneck BOE: Independent Demographic Study of Impact of New Development”

Public Comment is not Testimony: A primer on when / how to speak at public meetings

Public input at meetings of council and statutory boards is critical to the proper functioning of government.  But not all opportunities to speak are the same.

If you came out to speak at yesterday’s Zoning Board hearing against an application – it was not entered in the record for the application.

In this post, I’ll outline the problem and then make a few suggestions as to how we might find a fix.

Types of Public Input

Continue reading “Public Comment is not Testimony: A primer on when / how to speak at public meetings”

[UPDATE x2] [LAWSUIT] Senator Weinberg to Teaneck Business: Not in my backyard!

There’s a new kid-friendly establishment coming to Teaneck, but not if State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has anything to say about it.

Senator Loretta Weinberg, in her capacity as our representative, has sued the Township and a business trying to open up in “her” building (full complaint available below).

The tenant, Teaneck Speedway LLC wishes to put in two amenities:
1) Slot-Car Racing tracks and 2) a Mini-Bowling area.  (The latter is kind of a mix between skee-ball and bowling)

Here’s what it will look like: Continue reading “[UPDATE x2] [LAWSUIT] Senator Weinberg to Teaneck Business: Not in my backyard!”