Roseland, NJ: Small Town Occupation With Reasonable Taxes

When they went house hunting in early 2020, Tatsiana Butsko and Yury Krychala, immigrants from Belarus, decided to focus on western Essex County, an area of ​​northern New Jersey known for relatively affordable homes and good schools. .

“We focused on Livingston, Caldwell and Fairfield,” said Mr. Krychala, 41, a software engineer for a financial services firm in Jersey City, NJ. “We didn’t even know about Roseland.”

But their real estate agent convinced the couple, who rented a two-family home in Dumont, New Jersey, in Bergen County, to expand their search to the neighboring borough. “And so we went there, and the only house we looked at, we decided to buy right away,” Mr. Krychala said.

He and Ms. Butsko, 35, a title specialist for a logistics company in Secaucus, NJ, and their two daughters moved into a split-level three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home on a quarter acre in June 2020, paying $595,000.

Roseland, they said, checked all the boxes. “It has good schools, a good commute and I feel safe too,” said Ms Butsko, who recalled police stopping by their house one night to let them know that their garage door was open.

“You really get a small-town feel,” said James R. Spango, part-time mayor of Roseland since 2019 and chief of the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. “This was what attracted me to Roseland,” said Mr. Spango, who moved there from Livingston in 2016 with his wife, Dawn Spango, and their two daughters.

Roseland is considered one of the county’s most desirable areas, with its highly regarded school system, diverse housing stock, quaint downtown, and ample public space. It was ranked 14th in 2019 on New Jersey Monthly’s most recent list of the best places to live in the state.

A major selling point for homebuyers has been property taxes, which are lower than surrounding areas, in large part due to corporate offices, many of which are located on what was once the sprawling Becker Farm, on the southern edge of the borough. These include the Automatic Data Processing headquarters and several law firms. But a number of buildings are now vacant and a large corporate tenant, Prudential Financial, is selling its two buildings and consolidating operations in Newark. (A spokesperson attributed the downsizing to workplace changes since the pandemic.)

However, Mr Spango does not expect this to lead to an increase in taxes. “The office parks that are being closed are being replaced by housing,” he said, some of which are affordable housing.

For Martin and Judith Folkman, who moved to Roseland from Montclair, NJ, in 2014 and swapped a Craftsman-style home on three-quarters of an acre for an expansive farm on a wooded lot that was twice the size, the tax savings have been significant. “We’re paying about $8,000 less a year,” said Mr. Folkman, 65, who co-directs an international awards program for indie musicians with Ms. Folkman, 63.

The couple say they enjoy being in a quieter area with less traffic, while maintaining close proximity to their favorite shops and restaurants in Montclair, about 5 miles away. “We are also close to all the parks and reserves in Morris County,” said Ms. Folkman.

And making friends was easy. “We’ve met people walking the dog,” Mr. Folkman said. “And before you know it, they’ll be stopping for cocktails.”

Roseland, with approximately 6,300 residents within its 3.6 square miles, borders West Caldwell and Essex Fells to the north, West Orange to the east, Livingston to the south, and East Hanover in Morris County to the west. Interstate 280 cuts through the neighborhood, providing easy access to Manhattan, as well as Newark and other New Jersey cities.

Within the borough are four major thoroughfares: Passaic and Livingston Avenues, which run southwest to northeast; Harrison Avenue, crosses the north end; and Eagle Rock Avenue, from east to west, which houses a small downtown area with a variety of shops, along with the Roseland Municipal Building.

A popular downtown haunt is Fairchilds Market, which sells fine wines, burgers and other prepared foods. But many residents do much of their eating and shopping in nearby areas with larger and more vibrant commercial districts.

Roseland has a large and diverse housing stock, with an array of choices in its tree-lined neighborhoods, including mansions, grand colonials, mid-century Cape Cods, ranches, and split-levels. The larger, older (and more expensive) houses can be found in the wooded Holmehill section, on the east side of the borough.

“Roseland offers a good mix — you have something for everyone,” says Lauren Orsini, an agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, in Verona, NJ

Roseland has a range of house styles and price points, because “every part of the city is built a little differently,” Ms. Orsini said. However, lately, as in other areas, stock has been low and prices have risen.

Last year, Ms. Orsini said, 54 detached houses were sold for an average price of $570,381. That compares to 44 home closures so far this year, for an average retail price of $701,898. In 2020, 34 townhouses were sold for an average price of $534,106; this year, 23 townhouses have been sold for an average of $556,272, she said.

By mid-October, there were just 10 homes for sale in Roseland on the Garden State Multiple Listing Service, from a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom townhouse, listed for $529,000, to a five-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath colonial in the Holmehill section, for $1,149 million.

“You get more bang for your buck here, and you also have more variety of choices,” said Maya Norman, an agent at Coldwell Banker in Livingston, who helped Ms. Butsko and Mr. Krychala find their home last year.

There are also some rental options. Some townhouse owners rent out their units, and apartments are available in luxury complexes such as the Avalon Roseland and Everly Roseland, on the northwest side of the borough. A one-bedroom at the Everly starts at about $2,300 per month.

Residents have access to several parks and playing fields. These include two expansive spaces administered by Essex County and partly within the municipality: the 1,360-acre West Essex Park, which runs along the Passaic River and includes fishing and boating areas, as well as an environmental center; and Becker Park, a 147-acre tract of land with hiking trails.

The borough hosts several events throughout the year, including Roseland Day in October, which features a 5K run, performances by local bands, and an evening bonfire; an Easter egg hunt; summer concerts at Thomas J. O’Beirne Field, on Harrison Avenue; and an annual celebration of the Christmas tree and menorah lighting. Some of these activities had to be modified during the pandemic, the mayor said.

Lester C. Noecker School, on Passaic Avenue, has approximately 470 students enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade. It is one of the state’s top-ranked public schools for reading and math.

Middle and high school students are served by the West Essex Regional School District, as are students from nearby North Caldwell, Essex Fells and Fairfield.

West Essex High School, with a 97 percent graduation rate, offers many Advanced Placement classes to nearly 1,100 students. The mean SAT scores for the 2019-2020 school year were 552 for literacy and 558 for math, compared to 536 and 536 statewide.

The borough is about 24 miles from Midtown Manhattan, a drive that can take an hour or so depending on traffic.

Many residents, such as Mr. Krychala, continue to work remotely. Those who commute to New York offices have a few options, although most of them involve driving. These include taking a PATH train at Harrison station on Interstate 280, about a 20-minute drive away; the journey to lower Manhattan takes about 20 minutes and costs $2.75 one way or $110 for a monthly pass.

Commuters can also choose to take a 40-minute train ride on the New Jersey Transit from Montclair to Pennsylvania Station, or drive approximately 5 miles to Essex County Park N Ride on Northfield Avenue, in West Orange, to catch a Coach USA bus to Port to take authority. Bus stop.

The DeCamp bus lines provide limited service to the Port Authority from Eagle Rock Avenue.

Roseland was once part of Livingston and known as the Centerville neighborhood of the borough. It was established as an independent municipality in 1908, after the growing population of the community pushed for greater independence, as well as a separate post office. Roselyn was the name originally suggested for the township, but due to misspelling or design, it became Roseland.

Agriculture was the predominant industry in Roseland’s early days, and the most prominent agricultural business was Becker Farm, which operated from 1880 to 1964 and covered nearly 1,200 acres, or nearly half of the township, at its peak. Most of that land was later developed as an office park for companies.

Notable residents included Richard J. Codey, who served as governor of New Jersey from 2004 to 2006.

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