The township planning board will hear testimony Wednesday evening from Bloomberg, LP seeking site plan approval to construct six buildings totaling 312,000-square feet on an existing 64-acre lot. Bloomberg currently operates out of an approximately 198,000-square foot facility.
"They want to double the size of the center they have there with several new office buildings," said South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese. "They have a 10-year plan where they want to expand the property and hire a lot more people. They have plenty of land to do it on so this is a good thing for the township."
South Brunswick is hoping for a brighter outlook on the tax ratable front after a rough stretch over the past several years due to the recession. Last year, 391 tax appeals were filed in the township, up from about 180 appeals in 2011, when about 100 companies successfully sued the township for a tax reduction.
That reduction resulted in the loss of over $100 million in ratables in 2011, $98.5 million of which came from commercial and industrial tax appeals. The drop in assessed value has a greater impact on the tax rate for the municipality and school than any other factor, according to township officials.
However, the total number of ratables lost to tax appeals dropped to $32 million in 2012.
Since 2007, South Brunswick has lost $600 million in ratables from successful tax appeals. Over the last 10 years, the ratio of assessed value to market value dropped from about 80 percent to 47 percent in South Brunswick.Despite the drop in the ratio of assessed value to market value over the last decade, the ratio improved last year from 44 percent to 47 percent, which township officials said was a sign that the economy may be turning around.
The expansion of Bloomberg could further help to improve the tax base, however added traffic from the 10-year project remains a concern. Township officials are hopeful the completion of the Route 522 expansion will help alleviate the congestion problem by diverting commercial traffic away from the five-corners intersection in Dayton.
A recent agreement between South Brunswick Township and the state Department of Environmental Protection will allow for the completion of an extension of Route 522 between Route 130 and Cranbury–South River Road.
The project is expected to reduce commercial truck traffic in residential areas along Ridge Road through the construction of a connector from Route 522 to Fresh Ponds Road, which will limit access for trucks from Route 130 to Fresh Ponds Road.
As part of the land swap, the NJ DEP will give the township an approximately 5-acre portion of a 30-acre parcel of Pigeon Swamp State Park on Fresh Ponds Road. The property lies in a wooded undeveloped area at the southern edge of Pigeon Swamp State Park and is not currently active for recreational use.
The land going from the township to the DEP is in the same area and will add additional woodlands to Pigeon Swamp State Park, in addition to a large pond and freshwater wetlands. The extension will also allow for two previously approved warehouses to be constructed that are expected to bring about 200 more jobs to the township.
"Where the Bloomberg facility is located the biggest concern we have is the traffic," Gambatese said. "We're concerned what the expansion will do to Georges Road and Ridge Road. But at least this gives us 10 years to make changes to the five-corners intersection. Bloomberg is looking at bringing a lot of high-tech jobs to South Brunswick, and that's good for everybody."