The sprawling lot at 418 Schuyler Ave., at the foot of Quincy Ave., next to the Portuguese Club of Kearny, takes up a bit more than 19 acres.
It is empty except for the overgrown vegetation that manages to fill it. To the north and south of the parcel are auto body and auto salvage shops.
Despite efforts by the property owner to market the site, no one has offered to buy it since it is zoned largely for open space so nothing substantial can be built on it.
And the parcel is contaminated so extensively that an appraiser hired by the owner concluded in December 2013 that it would cost nearly $800,000 to clean it, according to Town Assessor John Peneda.
Still – until recently – Kearny had the property assessed at $784,000 for which the town collected $78,682 in taxes for 2015.
That value prompted the owner, listed in tax records as PMC Inc. of Sun Valley, Calif., represented by Fairfield tax attorney Bruce Stavitsky, to file an appeal of the town’s assessments for 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The owner claimed that the land should have no value; the town reasoned that position was too extreme because the zoning code allowed for some retail/commercial development on 250 feet of frontage along the Schuyler Ave. border of the property – about 3.2 acres.
In the end, both sides agreed to a settlement which, according to Peneda, will see the assessment on the land reduced to $400,000 for 2013, $350,000 for 2014 and $300,000 for 2015, compelling payment of a tax refund totaling $131,132 due the property owner for those three years.
Also, for 2016, the land’s assessment will be fixed at $100,000 and the taxes, at $10,326 – a far cry from what the town had been collecting, Peneda said.
“Through the settlement,” Peneda said, “we minimized the exposure to the town with less of a giveback of tax revenues.”
Kearny is awaiting the fate of 15 other industrial/commercial tax appeal cases, not including appeals involving 31 parcels in south Kearny involving PSE&G which the town is in the process of having re-appraised.
– Ron Leir