Tuesday, November 21, 2017

More on the Affordable Housing Crisis

 IN RESPONSE TO THE ACTIVE GROUP & DISCUSSION FROM CASTERLINE ROAD

(These are the views of Councilman Gene Fitzpatrick and do not necessarily reflect opinions of Denville Towsnship’s Administration.)

There is a very active group, understandably upset, over the potential of a development on Casterline Road. I applaud them for their activism.  Unfortunately, the issue is extremely complicated which is why I feel as a Councilman, I have to work much harder to communicate all the details of what’s happening.   The reason for the development is essentially because the Township has a constitutional obligation to provide for the reasonable opportunity for the creation of affordable housing. The historical aspect of the constitutional mandate is another very complicated issue.  I have outlined that situation in a previous post in April. (See https://councilmanfitzpatrick.blogspot.com/2017/04/summarizing-denvilles-affordable.html)

However, specific to the Casterline development, there are some flyers and a website (Ironically entitled the ‘Naked Truth’ which is leaving out A LOT of information ).  In response, I want to try and clarify why we are in the situation we are in.  I believe by the time the Council will actually vote for the rezoning change in the area to provide for the development I will have already left office; however, it’s important for residents to know the issue.  I have offered to speak with this group several times but have not been invited. I will try again and sign up for their newsletter.   Again, I am hopefully a reasonable solution can be found but I warn residents to be careful what we ask for.  Some of the suggestions by this group will most likely lead to massive and costly litigation for Denville as well as even more higher density development that Denville would have no say or influence in.  That risk is too great.  I caution residents to question the credibility of someone passing our flyers to you at Acme the same way you’d question Denville’s Council.  The Council has no vested stake in approving developments.  The Council gains nothing from entertaining this issue except that we have to try and make the best decisions for the whole town and in doing so protect our town. 
THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING ISSUE IS A COURT ISSUE NOW

For years Denville had done its part to provide affordable housing through our township.  We have always obliged to the various different formulas that have been provided/changed/revised by the state.  We actually enter the current round with a slight surplus of affordable housing credits.  The Fair Share Housing Center, a lobbying group and our adversary in the courts has proposed that NJ need many more affordable housing options a specifically nearly 1500 in Denville (which actually would mean 6000 total homes added in Denville, if you include the market rate units in that calculation. That’s double the town’s current housing).

With that, Denville and other municipalities resorted to court because the State legislature was unable to approve and develop appropriate guidelines for assigning an affordable housing obligation for each municipality.    Last year, the court asked Denville to submit a proposal based upon calculations performed by our expert on how many new affordable housing units we were obligated for and how we would propose to accommodate the construction of these units.  Since several other developers are part of that lawsuit, Denville had to provide solutions that would show some reasonable attempt at working with these interveners.  Unfortunately, since it was a court matter, the governing body could not open those discussions to the public.  The Council and Planning Board supported some potential ways to accommodate the developers, knowing that they were theoretical.  Now, we are trying to determine and negotiate the best way to allow for responsible and smart development in various areas.

THE COURT DOESN’T CARE ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS & SEWERS

Demographics studies show how much more development will cost on our resources,
Nobody is disputing that.  Unfortunately, the courts have continuously ruled that they are not interested in how affordable housing affects those resources.  Sad, but true.  Therefore, we are unable to use the impact it will have on our school system or other resources as a defense. 


WHY NOT TELL THE DEVELOPERS “NO”?

Several developers have joined the Fair Share Housing Center, positioning themselves as part of the “solution” to develop the quantity of homes the FSHC is asking for.  In the past developer’s often would file builders remedy lawsuits which accused municipalities of unconstitutionally preventing them for being able to construct affordable housing.  These lawsuits not only cost municipalities millions to dollars in court fees but almost always resulted in larger, higher density developments where the municipality was completely removed from the planning process. As well the courts in NJ have almost always sided with those developers.  A way to avoid those lawsuits is to abide by the courts process and continue to “move forward” with a working path to smart development.  This is what Denville has done.

The moment Denville says “no” to a builder/develop, it is almost guaranteed that a developer would claim Denville to not being compliant in this path forward.  If the court agreed, Denville would lose ALL immunity to the Builder Remedy lawsuit.  That means,  ALL OF THE OTHER DEVELOPERS SEEKING HOUSING PROJECTS IN TOWN WOULD FOLLOW SUIT.  That could cost Denville MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN LEGALS FEES and RESULT IN MASSIVE DEVELOPMENT.  Many times more that what we are entertaining now.

WHY DOESN’T DENVILLE BUILD A GIANT AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMPLEX TO FILL ALL THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRITERIA?

1. A developer needs to be interested in that.  Despite this nonsensical system, it is still a free market.  I’m not a fan of townships building housing, that’s for the private sector.  No developer has showed interested in that yet. Other municipalities who have constructed 100% affordable developments have had to pay for them with tax payer monies at an average for $225,000 to $250,000 per unit (Public Entities are required to pay prevailing wages).
2. Let’s call it what is is, that’s a “project” with all the connotations intended.  The point of affordable housing is to give people of different economic statues the opportunities and resources of a preparing community.  We’ve done a great job assimilating affordable housing, I don’t think we should be building 1 massive complex for just affordable housing.  Those who need affordable housing should share the same access and resources as others.   A great example of that is the development on Old Boonton road and the smaller one on Church Street. 

3. It’s extremely costly.   Some people will say that it’s less than the cost it will cause our schools, roads, etc… but I disagree and don’t think a municipality should front a cost like that.  That’s millions of dollars. It’s irresponsible.  My opinion.

4. Developers would still sue.  At this point even if the township had planned some lagging housing project, the intervener developers with other housing developments would still sue and potentially have a good case against us.  Their projects are shovel ready and would provide housing within a year or 2 vs. the several years and large cost hurdles to build a development.

HOW ABOUT SENIOR HOUSING/VETERAN HOUSING, ETC?

There are maximum caps for Senior Housing and we’ve already reached our quota for those types of housing requirements and it would not satisfy any of our current affordable housing requirements.  

IS THE COUNCIL VOTING ON APPROVING THE CASTERLINE DEVELOPMENT

Not yet.  The developer originally was looking for around 230 units.  The Mayor and administration have been working to hopefully negotiate, revise, plan for something considerably less.  The last presentation from the developer was showing around 65 units with a number of 3 bedrooms.  That was very concerning but I am really hopeful that when it comes back to the council, there will be a more promising proposal.  Most likely, it will be after I am out of office though.

There is a very active volunteer group that is extremely against anything being developed there.  I applaud their activism and hear them.  However, I’d be very cautious to a solution that denies that developer from building a small property.  As stated before, that would result immediately in costly lawsuits and MASSIVE development throughout all of town.    REMEMBER:  Townships have not won those lawsuits in NJ.  Not one that I know of. 


WHY DOESN’T DENVILLE HAVE A COMMUNITY HOUSING COMMISSION TO HELP?

In the past, all of those matters were shared with our planning board, environmental boards, etc…  A group of volunteers to help this current situations will probably not do too much now but if there are more threats ahead, it is something to consider.  That would be the prerogative of the Mayor and Administration.


WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

Not a lot of good ones. Here’s a breakdown:

VOTE NO TO CASTERLINE?
Probably not that simple.  Voting it completely down, I can almost guarantee will result in the developer claiming Denville is not complying which would make Denville lose immunity to all developer lawsuits.  Some people say “We shouldn’t back down and we should fight”.  That’s a nice thought but in the history of this issue I don’t know of any municipality that has won.  So we’d end up spending millions on legal fees and end up with more housing then we are currently trying to settle on.   Those risks are far too costly.

WAIT & SEE?
That’s been my approach.  I’m curious to see what the Mayor and Administration can work out.  Most likely some development on Casterline and the other areas but less than would result if we lost immunity from builders remedy.

PRESSURE THE NJ LEGISLATURE
Many have been doing this and I think this is our only hope.  There is no way local elected officials are going to risk their town being overdeveloped as a result of court rulings.  But if the legislature shows some sign of taking the issue back and come up with guidelines for affordable housing, it could entice local officials to be rejecting settlements too soon.  

Here are a list of several assembly bills that should be debated in the NJ Assembly.
Write current Speaker of the Assembly Vincent Pietro and incoming Speaker, Craig Coughlin and ask them to enable open debate on this pieces of legislation.

Assemblyman Vincent Pietro
One Harmon Plaza, Suite 205
Secaucus, NJ 07094

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin
569 Rahway Avenue
Woodbridge, NJ 07095

A4667 Establishes "Affordable Housing Obligation Study Commission; 

S3081 Establishes "Affordable Housing Obligation Study Commission; 
A5025 Requires COAH to administer affordable housing obligations of municipalities based on statewide obligation; 

A5027 Requires COAH to calculate affordable housing obligations on Statewide basis;

A5028 Establishes additional factors for municipal adjustment used in calculating fair share affordable housing obligations; provides population-based cap for these obligations; 

A5029 Prohibits affordable housing obligation exemptions for urban aid municipalities; 

ACR249 Proposes amendment to New Jersey Constitution to prohibit exclusionary zoning and clarify municipal obligations regarding affordable housing construction;


ACR250 Proposes constitutional amendment to require State-wide calculation of affordable housing obligation. 

Letter to Speaker of the Assembly-Elect on Affordable Housing

Dear Assembly Speaker Elect Coughlin,

We are at a critical juncture in this state with how we decide to appropriately handle the need for individuals to have affordable housing options and the reality of what townships & municipalities can sustain with new development.  This affects our school systems, public resources, environment and more.  This also greatly influences the quality of life of our residents, both those in need of affordable housing options and those who can afford more.

In Denville, we have always worked hard to incorporate affordable housing options within our main township structure so all residents have equal access to the great resources, accommodations and benefits of our town.

Due to the legislatures inaction, the issue now resides very much in the court system.  This is a failure of the legislature and as Speaker of the House I urge you to bring forth a variety of bills that can be discussed by the Assembly.  All options should be discussed, debated and a potentially resolved.  To not entertain theses bills is a failure of government.  Please allow for the bills listed below to come before the Assembly for discussion & vote.  Anything less is clouding government’s transparency. Leaving the matter within the court system prevents Townships from openly discussing many legal matters to to litigation risk.  Listed:

    A4667 Establishes "Affordable Housing Obligation Study Commission; 

  S3081 Establishes "Affordable Housing Obligation Study Commission; 
  A5025 Requires COAH to administer affordable housing obligations of municipalities based on statewide obligation; 

  A5027 Requires COAH to calculate affordable housing obligations on Statewide basis;

  A5028 Establishes additional factors for municipal adjustment used in calculating fair share affordable housing obligations; provides population-based cap for these obligations; 

  A5029 Prohibits affordable housing obligation exemptions for urban aid municipalities; 

  ACR249 Proposes amendment to New Jersey Constitution to prohibit exclusionary zoning and clarify municipal obligations regarding affordable housing construction;


  ACR250 Proposes constitutional amendment to require State-wide calculation of affordable housing obligation. 

Thank You,
Councilman Gene Fitzpatrick, Denville NJ


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Letter to Speaker of the Assembly on Affordable Housing Requirements

I have sent a letter to the Speaker of the NJ Assembly urging him to bring forth discussion before the Assembly of proposed bills regarding affordable housing requirements greatly affecting the overdevelopment of our town.   I will keep you updated if I receive a response and encourage you to write as well:

Speaker of the Assembly, Vincent Pietro
1 Harmon Plaza, Suite 205
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Email - AsmPrieto@njleg.org
Twitter @VincentPrieto



Letter:

Assemblyman Vincent Pietro
One Harmon Plaza, Suite 205
Secaucus, NJ 07094
October 2, 2017

Dear Assembly Speaker Pietro,

We are at a critical juncture in this state with how we decide to appropriately handle the need for individuals to have affordable housing options and the reality of what townships & municipalities can sustain with new development.  This affects our school systems, public resources, environment and more.  This also greatly influences the quality of life of our residents, both those in need of affordable housing options and those who can afford more.

In Denville, we have always worked hard to incorporate affordable housing options within our main township structure so all residents have equal access to the great resources, accommodations and benefits of our town.

Due to the legislatures inaction, the issue now resides very much in the court system.  This is a failure of the legislature and as Speaker of the House I urge you to bring forth a variety of bills that can be discussed by the Assembly.  All options should be discussed, debated and a potentially resolved.  To not entertain theses bills is a failure of government.  Please allow for the bills listed below to come before the Assembly for discussion & vote.  Anything less is clouding government’s transparency. Leaving the matter within the court system prevents Townships from openly discussing many legal matters to to litigation risk.  Listed:

A4667 Establishes "Affordable Housing Obligation Study Commission; 

S3081 Establishes "Affordable Housing Obligation Study Commission; 
A5025 Requires COAH to administer affordable housing obligations of municipalities based on statewide obligation; 

A5027 Requires COAH to calculate affordable housing obligations on Statewide basis;

A5028 Establishes additional factors for municipal adjustment used in calculating fair share affordable housing obligations; provides population based cap for these obligations; 

A5029 Prohibits affordable housing obligation exemptions for urban aid municipalities; 

ACR249 Proposes amendment to New Jersey Constitution to prohibit exclusionary zoning and clarify municipal obligations regarding affordable housing construction;

ACR250 Proposes constitutional amendment to require State-wide calculation of affordable housing obligation. 

Sincerely, 


Gene Fitzpatrick

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Strongly Supporting Jack Ciattarelli for Governor

Candidate for NJ Governor, Jack Ciattarelli

I couldn't imagine who would ever want to be New Jersey's next governor.  Our state is in such a terrible mess -enormous property taxes,  insane state school funding formulas, a State pension fund so deep in the hole that 3 former governors at a League of Municipalities Conference recently agreed they wouldn't even know where to being in order to fix it.   However,  I'm very impressed with a candidate who has a plan and gives real answers to question vs. the same older political rhetoric.  That candidate is Jack Ciattarelli, he's a businessman and resident first, before politics.

I've never been one to shy away from disagreeing with my own political party but I believe Jack Ciattarelli is the best person to lead the state.  The Primary selection for Governor should not be a coronation of an establishment's candidate that automatically assumes the nomination.  It should be a contest and debate. In those debates Jack has demonstrated himself to be the better candidate.   Here are the reasons why I'm supporting Jack Ciattarelli in the June 6th primary.

SCHOOL FUNDING -  Finally someone is admitting why our property taxes are so out of control and has a plan to fix it.  The way the State funds our schools is all out of wack.  Jack is pointing this out and vowing to change that formula.  He acknowledges it will take bipartisan work in the legislature but already knows which Democratic Assemblypersons and Senators are open to support it.  There is no reason why residents of Denville should be paying leagues more money for their schools than affluent property owners in Hoboken or Jersey City.  We need a new fair funding formula.

TERM LIMTED - I enthusiastically applaud how Jack has term-limited himself in every political position he's had.  He believes politicians must NOT be a permanent part of a political machine.   Jack is a business owner and resident first. He is not tied to a political establishment.

BENEFITS REFORM - I point blank asked Jack how'd he accomplish this with a Legislature that is in the pockets of big unions.  He has a plan.  Jack knows he can lead support for school funding reform with key bipartisan support in suburban counties. Once that success is achieved he can leverage that equity for State benefits reform.  All the stakeholders have to come together instead of the mudslinging and name-calling that has been happening for the last 8 years.  It's time for a new and fair approach on both sides of the issue.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING -   It's a simple plan, get it out of the courts and back to the legislature. As Governor, Jack will appoint a fair council that will be committed to getting something done instead of being deadlocked in political stalemate.  I'm proud of my political party but we need to put the state first over political parties and work across the aisle.

THE DMV - Finally a NJ political figure is pointing out how inefficient the DMV is and wants to fix it.

HE CAN WIN IN NOVEMBER- NJ voters lean heavy Democrat and the actions of this last administration and the National Republican Party over the last few years have nearly destroyed the party in NJ.   Jack is putting NJ first and is the only one who has smart sound ideas that both Republicans and Democrats can agree with.  We need to fix the the states finances ASAP and there is a way to do it without massive tax increases.  Let's fix the wasteful inefficient state government.

Ciattarreli's opponent Kim Gaudagno is a nice individual. I am grateful for the support she has shown Denville, but it's time for change.  The accusations against Jack from her campaign are wrong.  He is not looking to raise taxes, instead he is actually giving voters an honest and complete plan about how he will fix this economically dying state.  I much rather a candidate that gives details instead of quick marketing tricks and sound bytes.  Vote Jack Ciattarelli June 6th.  He's a really impressive guy and the only hope we have to save NJ.

Jack recently outlining some of his plan for NJ.com


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thoughts About 7-11 In Denville



7-11 is intersted in purchasing the old auto-garage across from Norman Dean Funeral Home in Denville.  I'm not a huge fan of 7-11s and not too interested in one being so close to our downtown.  It has the potential to disrupt the small-town feel Denville has.

However, the area has been zoned for commercial/retail use for decades.  And the owner of the property has a right to sell/open whatever type of establishment he/she wants as long as fits with the type of usage area has been zoned for.   And despite my pre-conceived notions of what 7-11s look like, there are some newer 7-11s that are very presentable and work well within downtown districts.  Morristown & Panther Valley are two examples.

There certainly are others like myself, cautious about a 7-11 in our downtown.  However, there is a misconception that the Planning Board meeting tomorrow night (Weds, May 24th) has the option to reject a -7-11 from coming to that location.  Unfortunately, that is most likely not going to happen.  The Planning Board is not deciding whether to allow 7-11 to open.  They are deciding as to whether they grant 7-11 variances for sign usage and front yard setback. Local governments can not be specific about types of establishments property owners can open.  I' ve heard people say "it'd be ok if it were a WAWA".  Well that's illegal and unconstitutional.  None of us should support governments restricting establishments based on our whether they like that establishment.  This is America.  Citizens can open businesses on private property they choose as long as they are legal businesses abiding by the laws of that location.  Other than those use variances the owners of the property do not need "township" approval to open a 7-11.  (Minutes from 1st Planning Board Meeting)

I might also note that outside of being illegal, restricting an establishment from opening due to unsubstantiated stigmas of that establishment would easily result in costing Denville taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.   Naturally any property owner would sue the Township if we restricted them, which is unbelievable costly to taxpayers.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO?

The Planning Board can request the applicant (7-11) make remedies to accommodate parking, traffic, etc.. but can't say "no we don't want a 7-11".  It can also be an opportunity to ask the 7-11 owners to do other things to help the neighborhood.  (They wouldn't be contingent on approval but it doesn't hurt to ask)  So I encourage everyone who is concerned about those implications to attend the meeting and ask questions during the public portion.  The Planning Board is made up of fellow Denville residents just like ourselves.  None of them have any vested interest or benefit in whether a 7-11 is there or not.  I have confidence they'll make the right decisions for our town and I encourage residents to discuss these matters with the Planning Board.

WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?

If you absolutely don't want a 7-11?  Let's utilize the best form of protest we have, our wallets and pocketbooks.  Show up to the meeting and remind 7-11 that we'll support SmartWorld or Mara's for our coffee.  We'll go to DenvilleMart for quick convenience items.  When we need a newspaper, we'll go to the Smoke Shop.   Contact 7-11 Corporate. and let them know as well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Summarizing Denville's Affordable Housing Crisis !


  • The State has a Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). They were supposed to give direction to municipalities on what the requirements are for accommodating (zoning, master plans, etc..) developers to potentially build affordable housing options
  • COAH did a poor job determining those requirements and is being challenged in Supreme Court of NJ
  • The Court is now attempting to be the ones to determine what those requirements are 
  • The FAIR SHARE HOUSING Center claims Denville should build 1313 Affordable Units by 2025 (which means over 6000 total affordable and higher end units because developers build 5 non-affordable for every 1 affordable unit.  By that way that is nearly double the amount of households Denville currently has)
  • DENVILLE believes we have met our share of requirements.
  • However, the Court (while it determines what the actual required number of units for Denville are) requires Denville to continue “moving forward” with a plan to accommodate affordable housing (even though we don’t know what that requirement is).  If we don’t “move forward” we are not immune from Developers suing the Township to force us to develop.  This is how the development at Peer Place came about.  If we were sued we could be forced into allowing a developer to essentially build a high density “project” wherever they want.  
  • Denville is “moving forward” with a moderate plan to accommodate around 70-100 affordable units so we can keep immunity from being sued by developers.  That plan would assume about 500 total residential areas by 2025. One of which is a possible Redevelopment along Route 53 which would be about 8 affordable units and the rest mid-high end units.  Keep in mind this would satisfy about 16-18 units of obligation due to various incentives, etc..  I have a lot of concerns about this re-development but we have to look at it.
  • Denville has very little space (if any) for developing anything.  Therefore, we can only look to redevelop areas.  These would be areas that potentially could be developed anyway, most of the time by commercial development like businesses, etc..  We have often looked at submitting these areas as “rehabilitation” zones which allows Denville to more strictly define the aethetics and requirements of the development and allows us to rezone those areas for residentially instead of commercial.  (i.e. we often also ask for other community improvements such as the sewer lines and access road brought in to Estling Lake Villages area)  We do recognize that accommodating for residential re-development impacts traffic, township resources, school resources.  However, this is the predictament we are in due to the above factors.
  • Please stay informed and help the township make the right decisions.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on the topic and naturally some people are playing politics with the topic.  As a councilperson I would love to say “hey let’s not build a thing in Denville ever again” but I realize that’s not going to be possible and would result in massive lawsuits in addition to massive housing development dictated to us.  Some tough decisions have to be made and we have to really stand up to our state legislatures, Governor and others to demand a reasonable solution to accommodate affordable housing fairly.

What's Being Built on Route 53? - My Perpsective

New Development on Route 53?  - Here's My Perspective



ARE APARTMENTS BEING BUILT?
Not necessarily and not for a while and NOT 100.  That has never been discussed.  Early ideas were around 57-60 units and even that is not approved yet.   From this Councilperson's perspective, I (and the rest of the Council) have only approved the area, where the abandoned printing facility on Route 53 is, be submitted as a "Rehabilitation Area".    There will be many public meetings, proposals, reviews and more over the next few years to determine.  ALSO THE REASON WHY THIS IS EVEN A CONSIDERATION IS THE NJ COURTS ARE FORCING TOWNS TO DEVELOP TO ALLOW FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING OBLIGATIONS which is incredibly frustrating and we have a right to be angry.  Denville believes we have met our "Fair Share" housing obligation but the FAIR SHARE HOUSING COUCIL is claiming we need another 1313 affordable units (which mean over 6000 total units. It's INSANE)  We are waiting for the courts to decide but in order to keep from being sued by developers (who can sue to develop anywhere they want to any density), we have to keep "moving forward" to a plan.  The court's have not determined what "moving forward" means.

WHAT DOES "REHABILITATION" MEAN?
The state allows us certain advantages for redevelopment.  I approve of allowing that area to have "redevelopment".  Currently, another factory could open up there tomorrow without requiring any approval.  They could come in and have 150 employees going in and out each day.  So at some point there will be something built there again.  I believe it's best for us to insure it can be the right fit for our town and options where we can have certain requirements.

WHAT ABOUT TRAFFIC?
A MAJOR concern for me.  Traffic on 53 is horrible.  I need to see more traffic studies on how a development there will work.  But again, a factory could open up there tomorrow without any approval and supply 150 people commuting in and out of town everyday.  Traffic is going to get worse everywhere in our state.  And Route 53 will be a challenge especially when something is developed in Morris Plains where the old Warner Lambert facility was. We have more people in this area overall.  The challenge is finding the balance of good traffic flow.  I'm committed to finding that.  Can NJ expand Route 53?  Can we re-route traffic a certain way?  That's what I am hoping to find out and may be contingent on whether I would support this project going forward.

ISN'T THE MT TABOR TRAIN STATION GOING AWAY?
NJ Transit has mentioned it but nothing is official and a new residential area at the station could affect the decision.

WON'T IT BE MORE KIDS IN SCHOOLS?
This is an important question that needs to be answered. Another one, how much will any development affect other Township resources?  Although traditionally, transit villages have had less of an effect to those resources.  I still need to see more info. And again, the total number of units seen so far was around 57-60.

WHAT'S THIS ABOUT AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
Essentially this is the only reason the rehabilitation area and a POSSIBLE transit village complex is even being remotely considered.  DENVILLE IS BEING FORCED BY NJ COURTS TO BUILD A SPECIFIC NUMBER OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS.  Blame the NJ legislatures, blame the Governor-The NJ Council on Affordable Housing has done nothing to provide guidance to municpalitieis trying to accommodate fair housing. Now the NJ Courts are telling towns how many affordable housing units they need to build but unclear direction on how that formula is being calculated.  A "possible" complex would satisfy some of those obligations due to various factors even though many of the units will be higher priced models.  DENVILLE RESIDENTS SHOULD BE FURIOUS ABOUT THIS AS AM I.   I will be speaking more on this and looking for residents to help us find solutions to combat this.  We have provided the courts our estimate of what we think is a fair obligation and we are awaiting their response.


ARE THESE ALL AFFORDABLE HOUSING?  ARE THEY "PROJECTS"?
No.  Only 8-9 of potentially 57-60 are affordable.  However, those will count double to our affordable housing requirements.  No developer wants to just build affordable units because they want to make money.  Plus, it is wrong and unfair to stick all affordable units and their residents into one complex.  That would essentially be "project" housing which in my opinion is almost unconstitutional. They should be able to have the same quality access to a community.   However, in order to accommodate for potential what the NJ Courts will mandate our affordable unit requirements to be, developers will want to build many non-affordable units.  For every affordable unit the state requires us to build, expect a developer to build 5 higher end units.

WHY BUILD THEM THERE?
We can't dictate to a developer where he wants to build a property but we do have a Master Plan and we do zone areas of our town.  There is not much space left in Denville to build something new.  However, there are places where commercial establishments once were they are zoned for development.  Route 53 is one of those areas.  Keep in mind that an industrial/commercial property could open up in this same location tomorrow and add 150 cars to rush hour traffic along Route 53 and they would not need any approval.  That's why a residential property and rehabilitation zone should be considered.  With that, our Township can specify certain improvements to the area.  We can request certain requirements for parking, sidewalk, traffic flow and more.


IS THIS CORRUPT GOVERNMENT?
First, remember Denville's review of this possible scenario is still just a review. This will take years. Every mention of the proposed area has been done in public meetings.  The Council is made up of volunteers.  I personally have absolutely nothing to gain by a development being built in that area.  As a matter of fact, as a resident who commutes that route every day, I am EXTREMELY concerned about the potential traffic.  Although I do recognize that traffic is not going to get better on Route 53 and if the Township does nothing ever again on 53, more stores, shops and more commuters will still show up on this route.  Anybody who is charging that somehow "Denville officials" are getting some benefit from this is greatly misinformed and frankly a bit ignorant to how government functions.  I encourage all residents to come out to Town Council & Planning Board meetings and get involved.  We've actually had a few residents that have come with many good questions and suggestions.  Please don't just sit back and criticize decisions.  Instead, be part of the conversation and help the town make the right decisions.   Ultimately, no decision on this matter will be perfect but we have to plan something.