HILLSBOROUGH: Committee should protect open space, not work with developers

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Submitted Content
To the editor:
Imagine traffic as an additional 2,000 residents pour out onto Route 206 every morning. Imagine our property values plummet as another massive low-income, affordable apartment rental is built in Hillsborough. Imagine that one complex is built in the middle of one of our few remaining wetlands habitats.
Unfortunately, this is getting closer to reality in closed-door meetings between developers and our elected town officials.
A developer is negotiating for a large high-density, low-income affordable rental housing complex with 465 new residences on 206. Another development is being planned right across 206. The first property has not been developed because it contains wetlands and endangered wildlife. Almost half of this farmland was flooded during a hurricane from the stream running through the property.
In an environmental study, by the developer no less, this land was assigned a level 4 out of 5 in habitat importance because it contained state-endangered bald eagle, state-threatened barred owl and bobolink, and numerous others like the great blue heron.
Two years ago, a township committee member said that they had to change the zoning for this wetlands habitat because it would not be developed otherwise. The committee is again trying to change the zoning for this land to fit the developer’s desires.
Time and time again, Hillsborough residents have voted to maintain open space to preserve what rural character is left. Time and time again, the committee has voted for development and what huge developers want.
The development on Pleasant View Road had a zoning of three acres. The zoning was changed to 0.2 acres. Impervious surface requirements were dropped.
Many of you have similar stories. Zoning and regulations were changed to accommodate developers. You wanted to build a deck or a shed, but could not due to impervious surface requirements, and yet the developer had to meet 1/10th of that.
It’s time that our township committee stand up to developers and the state and stop filling our town with three-story, high-density, rental apartments.
Step by step our township committee is filling every inch of Hillsborough with ugly developments while Montgomery grows with beautiful homes on three acre lots. The property value for an identical home in Montgomery is significantly higher than in Hillsborough. Why? Because they are maintaining open space and providing quality in their schools. They know 25 percent of their affordable housing is vacant. Montgomery is 36 percent open space, and their mayor is fighting to maintain that.
Instead, our township has had closed door meetings with developers regarding low-income affordable housing. Residents of Hillsborough are not allowed to know the agenda, much less attend these meetings.
It is time that we, the residents of Hillsborough, stand up to our township committee members regarding the back-room dealings with large developers. It’s time to keep reasonable acreage for new homes. It’s time to hold huge developers to the same requirements as everyone else. It’s time to preserve our wetlands habitats.
We urge you to speak out. Make our voices known. Stop the huge developments in Hillsborough.
Tammy Smith, William Thompson, Gina Moleta and 67 other signatures
Hillsborough