Boro accepts land gifts


SPOTSWOOD — The borough has been given a number of small properties, and officials say the gifted lands will deter future development.

Council President Curtis Stollen said the town has collected small parcels in a land conservation zone between Adirondack and Brunswick avenues. Some of the parcels have come from tax liens, but the most recent plots were donated to the town.

While certain fringe areas there have been developed, the borough is now in ownership of most of the lots. This likely means that no one could purchase enough land to be worth developing with housing, Stollen said.

During the last Borough Council meeting, the governing body introduced an ordinance that accepts the donation of several lots in the area. Land donors listed in the ordinance include John Del Colle, Dolores Hoffman, Marie Nardino, Sandra Slocombe and Margaret Inglese. Stollen said the lots are in a wooded area that the borough plans to keep undeveloped.

Stollen said the property owners donated the lands because they are located in conservation zones that have wetlands issues, greatly devaluing their real estate value. By giving the properties to the borough, the owners will no longer have to pay municipal property taxes on them.

The taxes for these properties were very low due to the fact that they are mostly undeveloped, he said.

“It was not of marketable value for someone to build on them,” Stollen said.

While the borough will lose some tax revenue, it gains control of a larger area in a conservation zone. Even though the properties have wetland issues, it is sometimes possible for developers to mitigate or get around such issues. Future development is always possible, he said, especially if the economy improves and property values rise. A builder could purchase and consolidate the lots and seek to develop despite the wetlands issues.

“At some point, when property reaches a certain value, it becomes profitable,” Stollen said. More homes could result in a greater school tax and facility burden, he said.