The Hopewell Township Committee voted and discussed numerous issues at its Monday night meeting, including affordable housing and a continuance of Comcast services in the area.
The issue that drew the most contention was an ordinance to enter the Township in a financial agreement for a pilot program with the Lennar Corporation that would allow the construction of a small number of houses to test the feasibility of a larger development.
“We’re diversifying the housing stock and we’re offering an opportunity to downsize,” said Mayor Kevin Kuchinski. “We’re creating an on-ramp for people to come in.”
Members of the public raised some concerns such as the rate of vacancies and foreclosures in the Township as well as a tax break being offered to the Lennar Corporation, which was criticized as “corporate welfare” by township resident Harvey Lester.
Some community members urged the Township to postpone the vote on the project to allow the public two weeks to digest the proposal, whose sentiments were reciprocated by Committee Member John Hart.
Hart additionally raised concerns about the rising number of vacant houses and foreclosures in Hopewell Township as well as signing a “blank check,” in his words, without a set number of homes being constructed.
“More people are leaving than are coming in,” Hart said. “We have a 100 more homes than we did before and they’re empty.”
The Committee voted on and passed the ordinance despite public objection with Hart as the only dissenting vote.
The Comcast ordinance, which allows Comcast to continue providing cable services to Hopewell Township, received some backlash from the public about the quality of service by the company.
“The ordinance itself requires that they meet or succeed all customer standards, but that’s not happening,” said John Edwards, a Hopewell Township resident, who emphasized on issues with wiring in houses. “Those services are substandard.”
The Committee responded by stating that the company is regulated by the Board of Public Utilities and that the issue would continue to be part of the Committee’s agenda, with a future meeting on August 27th continuing the dialogue.
The Committee additionally addressed other issues in the Township, such as the tardiness of tax bills in the mail, which they are discussing with the postmaster in Pennington and an extension of the tax bill deadline to August 13th, and two arrests in connection to a string of burglaries in the Township, which the Committee applauded the police department for their help with.
The Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for August 13.