Letter to the Editor: Affordable housing for the upcoming election

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To the Editor,

What’s a “builder’s remedy” lawsuit? It happens when a municipality doesn’t move on its own to satisfy New Jersey’s constitutionally-mandated obligation to build affordable housing, and it can have disastrous consequences for communities.

Instead of limiting market rate units to a four-to-one ratio, the number of market-rate units – the way developers make their money – can be far more. In the case of Brandon Farms, which was the result of a builder’s remedy lawsuit in a prior affordable housing round, the ratio of market-rate units is more than twice as high – 8-9 market rate units for every affordable unit.

Being the subject of a “builder’s remedy” lawsuit takes control out of the hands of our locally-elected leadership and planning board. It puts key decisions in the hands of developers who don’t live here and whose motive is profit, not protecting our community. Instead of smartly spreading the proposed developments over three I-295 interchanges and keeping them close to the highway, a builder’s remedy would allow development anywhere in the township, expanding the traffic impacts and sprawl into more rural areas of the community.

Mayor Kristin McLaughlin has shown real leadership, not only rejecting builder’s remedy lawsuits, but also having the foresight to maximize the number of age-restricted units in our affordable housing plan, helping limit any impacts on the school district.

Mayor McLaughlin and Courtney Peters-Manning are asking for your votes on Nov. 5. So is current township committee member John Hart. Hart voted FOR the current plan, but now in election season, he loudly criticizes it while offering no alternate solutions, other than builder’s remedies.

Real leadership means finding real solutions, as McLaughlin and Peters-Manning have done. Real leadership doesn’t pretend there’s some zero-impact solution or relinquish responsibility for our future by allowing the builders to decide, as Hart has advocated.

Ken Zeldis
Hopewell Township