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Sayreville needs better options for affordable housing

Investment risk and uncertainty in the real estate housing market

Like many communities, Sayreville needs to respond to the Supreme Court decision concerning affordable housing.

Unlike some other communities, the Planning Board’s answer is to build 2,000 more homes/apartments on top of the 2,000 planned for The Pointe in order to achieve the required 795 affordable units. Affordable housing is a laudable goal, and providing it is the law, but poor land use planning is not and 2,000 more units would be many too many and violate the rules of good land use planning.

I’ve advocated better options, suggested by the Housing and Community Development Network on New Jersey and I hope the town will pursue them. Adaptive reuse; present need rehabilitation; family or senior housing built by the Housing Authority or Economic Redevelopment Agency or a non-profit; supportive and special needs housing for folks who have special needs and a supportive place to live, including people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, people with adult-onset physical disabilities, disabled veterans, victims of domestic violence, youth aging out of foster care and the homeless in need of permanent affordable housing, are better options.

There was even a pilot program for “tiny homes on tiny lots” that meets a crucial need.

In other towns, similar projects are funded through federal and state grants, housing development programs and private investment without a dime of local taxpayer money. Not only will these options not result in 2,000 more units, some of them will actually provide a 2:1 credit, reducing even the number of affordable units which must be built.

The town has had 18 months to address this issue and if it doesn’t respond with an appropriate plan by May 1 the court will impose one, and surrendering things as important as the town’s future development to a judge is never a good thing. Mayor Kennedy O’Brien first campaigned on the slogan “Make Sayreville Better, not Bigger.” I hope those two things don’t get reversed.

I have great faith, having been shown better options, the Borough Council will reject the Planning Board’s suggestion to build 2,000 more homes and make the choice that fulfills our affordable housing obligation, preserves home rule and is in the best interest of the community.

James Robinson
Former chairman, Sayreville Planning Board

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