Letter to the Editor: Hopewell Township under siege


To the Editor:

It strikes me that our way of life in Hopewell Township is under siege.

Not just because the township majority, with John Hart voting against, has re-authorized the largest development in the history of the township with our housing stock to increase by more than 50% from approximately 6,000 residences currently to a near-future over 9,500 residences.

Not just because the township majority has allowed the west side of Scotch Road to be blighted with a hotel of at least 100 rooms, maybe more; Conference Center; assorted businesses, including a 16 pump gas station, as well as more than 2,500 new homes.

Not even because the township majority tried its best to allow a full-scale chemical manufacturing facility to threaten the peaceful enjoyment of neighbors, including The Watershed Institute at Bristol-Meyers Squibb.

Our way of life is under siege because the township majority conducts public meetings with an iron fist to deter dissent and unwelcomed questions.

Three times over the past year, three different speakers were called “out of order” for criticizing the Hopewell Township Committee during a public comment session. This practice was not only foreign to previous township committees within recent memory, but in direct, blatant violation of federal and state law.

Ever hear of the First Amendment, for example? Speaking of last year, remember when Mayor Kuchinski whimsically prohibited the public from clapping during meetings? About a month ago, Mayor McLaughlin threatened one township resident, who pointed out the unfairness of inconsistency in the conduct of the township meeting, with a time out.  Even our police have been asked to monitor meetings.

Then there was the Hopewell Township Committee Special Meeting on July 29. Members of the public stood with their backs to the dais in silent protest, they were publicly shamed by Deputy Mayor Ruger. One resident pointed out, on her third try, that she had already asked her questions twice without answer.

What could be next? The gulag?

Harvey Lester