PARSIPPANY – The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council meeting on Tuesday, December 5, stretched beyond five hours as Council members, School Board members, and community residents unanimously voiced opposition to the township’s proposed PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) projects. There was no public support expressed for these PILOT projects during the meeting.
At a previous meeting, Daniel S. Cassese, Tax Assessor said “I am sure that everyone has been informed that I wrote two articles regarding PILOTS. I wrote the first article in 2019, pre-COVID, and the second article in February of 2021. What we have now, November 21, 2023, is a completely different market. I am still not a big fan of PILOT agreements. I have been trained to put ratables on the tax list not take them off but in today’s market municipalities throughout New Jersey are considering and approving PILOT agreements as a way to help redevelop distressed sites. As an example, in Montville Township there are over 1,000 apartments under construction that have PILOT agreements. Morris Plains and Hanover townships have similar PILOT agreements.”
PILOT projects offer tax incentives to developers in lieu of traditional taxes, a topic further detailed here. At the council meeting, four members – President Loretta Gragnani, Vice President Michael dePierro, Frank Neglia, and Paul Carifi – showed support for the PILOT programs, while Councilman Justin Musella opposed them.
Mayor James Barberio advocated for the PILOTs as a solution to what he describes as blight at the proposed project sites. Attorney John Inglesino, who is also representing the developers in these projects, attended the meeting to argue in favor of the PILOTs. This dual role was highlighted as a conflict of interest by resident Michael Espejo in a statement read during the meeting and also submitted as a letter to the editor. (Click here to read his letter)
Parsippany Board of Education members, including newly elected Andy Choffo and Tim Berrios, disagreed with Mayor Barberio and Inglesino. Choffo and Berrios were particularly aggrieved by Mayor Barberio’s earlier threat on 101.5’s morning radio show to “deal with them politically at a later time.” Choffo warned of potential legal action against such threats from an elected official.
Resident Timothy Berrios also expressed dismay over Mayor Barberio’s on-air threats and his frustration with the pushback against his PILOT proposals. Meanwhile, former Assembly candidate John Von Achen joined the chorus against the PILOTs, aligning with Choffo and Berrios on this issue.
The Township had engaged financial expert Mike Hanley from NW Financial to assess the PILOT program. Hanley disclosed his recent involvement, having been hired just two weeks prior.
Residents urged the Township Council to delay the vote on the PILOT ordinances, requesting more time to gather information. However, this plea was overlooked. A motion by Musella to postpone the ordinances lacked support and subsequently failed.
Ultimately, a vote on the PILOT projects at 2 and 3 Campus Drive and 249 Pomeroy Road was passed 4-1, with Musella dissenting. The council is set to consider three additional PILOT projects at its next meeting on December 19, including an apartment building, a Lifetime fitness center on Sylvan Way, and a warehouse at 7 Campus Drive.
More information on PILOT programs can be found in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section by clicking here.
Click here to download the Financial Agreement for 2 Campus Drive.
Click here to download the Financial Agreement for 3 Campus Drive.
Click here to download the Financial Agreement for 249 Pomery Road.
The Mack-Cali Business Campus area alone has nine office buildings totaling 1.2 million square feet either vacant or earmarked for redevelopment. Other vacant office buildings in the area include:
- 11 Waterview Boulevard, 120,000 square feet
- 15 Waterview Boulevard, 129,884 square feet
- 100 Kimball Drive, 174,220 square feet
- 200 Kimball Drive, 160,829 square feet
- 299 Jefferson Road, 143,777 square feet
- 30 Lanidex Plaza, 5,230 square feet
- 169 Lackawanna Avenue, 256,750 square feet
Additionally, three single-tenant leases are up for renewal, potentially adding over 200,000 square feet to this list.
Signs of Discontent: Packed Council Chambers with Residents Opposed to PILOT Programs, Yet Applications Approved 4-1