To the Editor,
I worry about the future of our democracy, when half-truth sound bites spread like wild fire on social media, but the full story takes more time to explain. I have seen several letters about the proposed “truck stop” off I-295. This is at best a half-truth, but the full story takes some explanation and does not lend itself to a quick blurb on social media.
Development is coming to Hopewell Township to fulfill our state-mandated obligation for affordable housing. This is a court order. Whatever anyone’s individual feelings are on this, we have to plan and put the affordable housing somewhere in the township. The current plan is the product of years of planning by the township committee and the planning board.
The parcel off I-295 on Scotch Road is part of the affordable housing settlement. It was added to the plan because if units are built there, they will be age-restricted. Adding the maximum number of age-restricted units to the plan lessens the impact on our schools.
The ordinance to re-zone this parcel to include these age-restricted units in our affordable housing plan does allow that some light commercial uses may be included at the site. Any uses that are proposed must go through full NJDEP permitting and be approved in a site plan by the planning board.
Fast-fuel diesel pumps like they have at truck stops are specifically prohibited in the ordinance. The allowable size gas station is comparable to the Lukoil on the Pennington Circle. A gas station on site not only gives the new residents a place to buy gas without driving far from their homes, but it also is a ratable that reduces our reliance on residential property taxes. Why not have all of the thousands of workers at Capital Health and Merrill Lynch buy their gas in Hopewell Township?
As for the hotel, Capital Health needs this to support patients and their families—and the township can charge a per-night occupancy tax on top of the property taxes they pay. Again this reduces our reliance on residential property taxes.
Keeping Hopewell Township green and affordable requires proactive planning, responding to challenges head-on, and finding new sources of revenue to reduce our reliance on residential property taxes. Vote for McLaughlin and Peters-Manning on Nov. 5 for leaders who do just that.