To the Editor:
In his Letter to the Editor, Mayor Kuchinski claims to “set the record straight” on finances and Affordable Housing. Regarding the $12 million Surplus that he inherited at the close of 2015, Mayor Kuchinski writes that his current $10.8 million Surplus is “35% higher than our past 20-year average.” Rather than admit that he raided the Surplus, Mayor Kuchinski went to some effort to create positive spin, apparently to mislead the public and hide this simple fact. Likewise, his talk about reducing debt cannot hide the fact that Mayor Kuchinski incurs new debt every year, including $3.5 million this year.
Regarding Affordable Housing, Mayor Kuchinski makes financial claims and predictions, which are neither subject to verification nor public scrutiny. Yet, the Kuchinski-Blake administration is allowing developers to build more affordable housing than required by the Court, and with it, more market-rate homes as well. I discovered this latest secret, which the administration never publicly revealed, by asking questions at the recent Planning Board meeting on March 22.
That night, the Kuchinski-Blake administration asked the Planning Board to consider amending the Zaitz Re-development Plan to include 30 potential affordable homes if none of the 50 proposed at Bristol Meyers Squibb (BMS) were built. I asked about the missing 20 affordable homes, but Planning Board members Kuchinski, McGloughlin and Sandom, who were on the Township Committee when this would have been planned, did not provide answers.
I found the answer buried in the Court Master’s Report – Final Compliance Hearing, dated December 11, 2017, in the first paragraph of page 15. It turns out that the missing 20 affordable homes not only are not missing, they are not needed for court compliance. In his report, the Special Master reported to the court “a 26 unit excess” of affordable homes in the township’s plan. At a 1 to 4 ratio of affordable homes to market-rate homes, that means that the Kuchinski-Blake administration slipped 130 unneeded homes into their 3,534 home plan.
That’s not even the worst of it. The Special Master reported in the second paragraph of page 9 that, regarding BMS, “there is a significant possibility that this development may not occur.” Does anyone remember Pennytown’s ill-conceived inclusion in our previous Affordable Housing Plan, which development did not occur? If those 30 affordable homes are built at Zaitz, the 78 affordable homes already planned at Zaitz becomes 108, and the “no less than” 301 market-rate homes already planned at Zaitz becomes 432.
Other than me, did anyone, such as the Kuchinski-Blake administration or their political supporters, who defend their poorly thought-out Affordable Housing Plan, bother to inform Diverty/Zaitz area residents that 540 new homes could be readily shoe-horned into their area?
So much for setting the record straight.
Harvey Lester, Titusville, NJ