I read the letter in last week’s Sentinel from East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen and he hit the nail on the head. I was a resident of East Brunswick for 28 years and was active in fighting the original Mount Laurel decision regarding affordable housing. Fox Meadow was the original proof of the failure to provide affordable housing. Only 5 percent had to be affordable and 95 percent sold at full market rate. Today, it is 20 percent affordable and 80 percent at full market rate. As you travel on Rues Lane toward Route 18, to the left are the full market rate homes that I believe were sold for $179,000. Directly across Rues Lane is the park and a cul-de-sac of affordable homes sold for about $55,000. That is proof of the original law that benefited the developers and not the towns.
Again Cohen was correct: Mount Laurel and the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) took away the control of the township administration from controlling the growth of the town and took away minimum lots to allow cluster housing, again to benefit the large developers. You had Lexington Village and Society Hill in East Brunswick each with, I believe, more than 400 units being built at the same time. It led to high traffic on Ryders Lane, water shortage, overcrowded schools and put a strain on all the township’s departments.
I have served on the Monroe Township Zoning Board of Adjustment for more than 11 years and also was on the Monroe Township School District Board of Education. During my 16 years living in Monroe, I continued my fight as a resident against the COAH obligations as well as the Abbott vs. Burke Supreme Court decisions for more funding for the original 23 Abbott, poor performing school districts, now 31 failing districts.
I now have the backing of and represent five other Monroe communities fighting for our fair share in state school aid. Monroe Township now needs two new schools and a large expansion on their 8-year-old high school. School enrollment is growing by more than 250 new students a year and is increasing as units in the new developments get sold.
As a zoning board member, we are not allowed by state law to turn down a residential application solely based on the impact to the school system, and we are not allowed to ask a developer to contribute to the cost of school expansions. I brought this up at hearings for applications represented by Sen. Bob Smith and he gave those responses to us, again to benefit the developers.
Mayor Cohen’s administration as well as the East Brunswick residents must fight by putting pressure on the state Supreme Court, state elected officials and the governor to stop this stupidity. Monroe is in ruins and getting worse each day with overdevelopment. Don’t let it happen to your town.
Mark S. Klein
Monroe Township Committee for Fair Funding