West Long Branch Opposes Legislation That Would Exempt Universities from Municipal Zoning

Monmouth University would be free to develop properties without variances

The West Long Branch Mayor and Council is speaking out against legislation that would exempt private universities and colleges, such as Monmouth University, from municipal zoning.

The legislation, which passed the New Jersey Senate and is currently headed toward a hearing in the state Assembly, would allow universities to develop their property without getting variances from a town's zoning board of adjustment.

West Long Branch Mayor Janet Tucci said she and the borough council oppose the legislation and the potential effect it would have on the borough.

"Your Borough Council and I have already made our strong opposition known to our Assemblywomen (Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande)," Tucci said on the borough's website. "We now look for your assistance in voicing your opposition as well."

Mayor Tucci said she would continue to oppose it if it should be passed by the New Jersey Assembly and reach Governor Chris Christie's office.

"This legislation would treat private colleges and universities differently than other inherently beneficial uses, such as hospitals, care centers, senior citizen housing and schools," Mayor Tucci said. "There is no justifiable reason why private colleges and universities should be treated differently than other inherently beneficial uses."

She said the borough and Monmouth University have had a good relationship over the years, but that the legislation would upset the balance.

"In addition, Monmouth University, as well as other private colleges and universities, could expand, with the resultant increased demands for parking, traffic, police protection and fire protection," she said. "This legislation would not only affect current property owned and used by private colleges and universities, but any property which they might acquire in the future. Such a free pass would likely adversely impact residential neighborhoods."

Tucci said a majority of Monmouth University's property is also tax exempt and that if expansion occurs, the new property would also be tax exempt.

"By removing the requirements to comply with municipal zoning regulations, the University would be able to purchase properties, use them for university purposes, and seek a tax exemption for them," Tucci said. "Once that exemption is granted the Borough would no longer be entitled to any municipal tax on the property and would, effectively, lose a ratable."

She said the 14 other New Jersey towns that house a college or university and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities have also opposed the legislation.

Bill Heller October 16, 2012 at 06:45 PM
What's going on with our state government? Home rule be damned, they want to rob a municipality's rights to determine the character and livability of their own town. And this isn't just happening with Universities. It's happening with industrial wind turbines that can reach as high as 500 feet with blades each the size of a cell tower and be placed way too close to homes...and with other supposedly green initiatives. People's home values - and don't take that lightly - along with their well being are at stake. Any legislator who votes for these flagrant power grabs should be ashamed of themselves and booted from office in the election!!!! I applaud the West Long Branch Mayor and Council for taking a stand....same for the town governments of Sea Girt and Union Beach in their fights against 40-story wind turbines. In reality, they are fights against heavily funded interests that are perfectly willing to shaft locals so they can fatten their own wallets. Shame on them and for us if we don't fight these aggressors at every turn.
joe October 16, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Give 'em Heller Bill!
Mary Lynn Noonan-Toschi October 17, 2012 at 03:11 PM
There is usually a good relationship between the University and the community however in this case, the University is asking for too much. Losing ratable properties forces the local governments to raise taxes to the rest of the community. We are not speaking of one or two properties here but essentially an unlimited number of properties removed from the local tax base and that is asking too much for the community to absorb.


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