Green Acres Tax Exemption Protest Letter
August 24, 2005
letter was sent to the Green Acres Tax Exemption Coordinator, Bruce W.
Bechtloff, who acknowledged receipt of the letter via a telephone call to me
at 2:45 on August 24, 2005.
Additional information regarding this issue
will be posted to a web page created specifically for information and
discussion regarding tax exempt land in Downe Township.
430 Sharp Lane, Box 299
Newport, NJ 08345
www.aicommand.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Via Email and FAX
August 24, 2005
Reference Number: 0604-05-3129
Mr. Bruce W. Bechtloff, NJ-DEP
Green Acres Tax Exemption Program
P. O. Box 412
Trenton, NJ 08625-0412
Dear Mr. Bechtloff:
This letter is being sent to you after a telephone
conversation we had on Thursday, August 18. 2005 during which I asked you to
postpone the hearing for tax exemption on the above reference number. After
consulting with your Deputy Attorney General you informed me during our
conversation that “The hearing date can not be changed; it is what it is,
what it is.” Ironically, your statement that the hearing date could not be
changed came after you told me that you have often postponed
hearings in previous years. I ask you again to postpone the hearing on
the above referenced application.
I have the following objections to the granting of tax
exempt status on the above referenced application number:
- The close--nearly incestuous--relationship between
the State of New Jersey and the Natural Lands Trust, Inc. precludes any
fair unbiased, assessment of facts and details in regard to the referenced
- In support of the above statement I point out that
the NJDEP and the NLTI are Tenants in Common in the Deed made on June 8,
2005. The address for the State agency holding the subject hearing, your
office, and the Grantee, the State of New Jersey are, in fact, the same.
- In addition, as a 5% owner as Tenant in Common the
State of New Jersey clearly has a major issue of conflict.
- The severe conflict of interest exhibited by the
above precludes any presumption of objectivity in regard to the subject
- The people of the State of New Jersey in general and
the people of the Township of Downe are not in any way being fairly served
by the NJEP if such an obvious conflict can be allowed to be called a
‘hearing’ on the said issues.
- As I indicated to you in our August 18th
telephone conversation, the people of Downe Township are quite fed up with
the continual carte blanche practice of allowing tax exemption on land
within the township. Our township is a whopping 54 square miles in size
but is populated by only 1600 people. A very large percentage or Downe
residents-- a disproportionate number when compared with other areas of
the state--are senior citizens on fixed income.
- I also indicated to you that our residents are so
dissatisfied with our current elected officials that we are voting this
November for two new committee members. We have previously voted to
increase the number of committee members from three to five. Current
members are not addressing tax exemption adequately.
- Downe Township has the third highest
percentage of tax exempt land in the entire State of New Jersey.
According to data I personally received from the NJDEP as an Excel
spreadsheet, Downe Township is 66.39% tax exempt, although our Tax
Assessor indicated in her letter of objection to you that the number is
closer to 70%. The continued practice of exempting land by your agency is
clearly not in the best interests of our residents.
- A major discrepancy exists between the amount of
land listed under ‘Property’ in the deed of June 8th and the
actual land total for the parcels indicated in the legal notice and as
provided in the application.
- The Deed mentions 1,551.206 acres, more or less,
whereas the total of the parcels in question total
1113.2 acres. A
discrepancy of 428 acres is nearly 25% of the amount listed in the deed.
25% is hardly ‘more or less’ by definition.
- The huge discrepancy between the parcel list as
provided in the legal notice and Deed as provided in the application is
sufficient reason to postpone the acceptance of this application until the
correct numbers are provided by the applicants.
- Information provided to me by the Downe Township Tax
Assessor indicates that various lots are combined into one lot. State of
New Jersey municipal land use law clearly indicates the requirement for
such transaction to come before the local planning board for sub-division
approval. The applicant for the subject exemption has NEVER appeared
before the Downe P & Z board for the land in question.
- If, as I expect your office to claim, the DEP
position is that because the State of New Jersey is a Grantee and Tenant
in Common no such application is required I suggest that you reconsider my
objections above in regard to a conflict of interest.
- Because of the above, and particularly because of
your unwillingness to postpone the hearing, the residents of the State of
New Jersey and the residents of Downe Township are being denied their
right of due process.
For your information, I am sending copies of
this letter to all local newspapers and all elected officials from local to
Assemblymen. I am also adding this letter to my website and weblogs related
to Downe Township.
Have some compassion; reject this application for
tax exemption status.