By Peter Elacqua
COLTS NECK – The Township Committee will ask residents if they are willing to pay more to support the purchase and preservation of open space in the community.
On June 8, the committee took action to place a non-binding referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Mayor Thomas Orgo, Deputy Mayor Michael Fitzgerald and committeemen Russell Macnow and J.P. Bartolomeo voted to place the question on the ballot. Committeeman Edward Eastman was absent from the meeting.
Voters will be asked: “Should the township of Colts Neck increase the annual levy for open space, farmland and historic preservation within the township of Colts Neck from the amount of $0.012 (1.2 cents) per $100 (of assessed valuation) to the amount of $0.025 (2.5 cents) per $100 of assessed valuation of real property?”
On the bottom line, if the members of the governing body eventually decide to raise the open space tax as proposed, the owner of a home that is assessed at $800,000 would see the amount he pays into Colts Neck’s open space fund increase from $96 a year to $200 a year.
“The more we preserve, the better off we are going to be down the line,” Orgo said.
Macnow said the committee is asking for the open space tax increase as a way to deal with affordable housing issues Colts Neck is facing.
“We need some more buying power, we need more liquidity to purchase open space to preserve it from large, high density housing developments,” he said. “It is to preserve open space in order to minimize the possibility of bringing townhouses to the township.”
Orgo said the open space tax currently generates about $339,000 a year. With the proposed increase in the open space tax rate, that amount would exceed $700,000 a year.
“With everything going on with (affordable housing) now, we have a problem and we are looking for ways to address the problem,” Macnow said.
In other business, the committee passed a resolution to amend a contract that was awarded to address road improvements in the township.
In May, officials awarded a contract worth $828,313 to the Earle Asphalt Company for the first phase of a road improvement project. Under the amendment, the contract will increase to $976,302 in order to add Liberty Knoll and Bowling Green Drive to the road improvements.
The remainder of this phase of the road improvement plan is schedule to include work on Muhlenbrink Road from Phalanx Road to Laird Road; on Laird Road; on Fireside Drive; on Spruce Lane; on Seedling Drive; and on the rear portion of Big Beech Lane (575 feet).