Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Highlands Act Impact

From the Star Ledger:

Minor impact from Highlands Act

It is only a year's worth of data, but a new report shows that residential property sales and tax rates in the Highlands seem only slightly impacted by the new legislation, officials said.

In 2005, residential property sales in the region decreased in line with state trends, while property taxes rose just above state averages, according to the preliminary Highlands Council report.

Opponents have argued that the 2004 Highlands Act's development restrictions might decrease ratable revenues, fueling a spike in property taxes.

"It does seem to indicate that, contrary to some people's fears, the sky is not falling," Highlands Council Chairman John Weingart said.
Thomas Kenyon of the New Jersey Planning Officials association said "it's very hard to draw conclu sions with a one-year survey." He noted that most tax rates are based on present local zoning codes, which don't yet reflect changes required by the Highlands master plan.
James Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, said the 2006 national housing market has slowed, making it difficult to pinpoint the effect of the Highlands Act in the near future.

"We're going to have these broader forces that will probably overwhelm the specific impacts of the Highlands legislation," he said.


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