HT Committee Hart LTE: Why I Voted the Way I Did on BMS Rezoning

Packed house at Township Committee meeting (photo credit: Laurie Cleveland)

To the Editor:

A number of residents approached me regarding the BMS rezoning and I would like to explain the events of that evening. (For MercerMe’s coverage, please see this link.)

At the June 24, Township Committee Special meeting, I heard the public loud and clear.  The Environmental Commission should have never been cut out of the process. In addition, residents should have been given sufficient notice, and ample time to voice their genuine and honest concerns. 

As a dedicated farmer, I agreed with the insightful and well-considered opinions of Watershed Institute Director, Jim Waltman. But it was the young children, expressing their worries about the environmental impact this could potentially have on their health and our community, who really touched my heart.

As I listened quietly to each and every resident in the packed committee room, I began figuring out how I could fix this mess with what little leverage I had.

 You must understand, I am the only Republican on a five-member Township Committee that has a super-majority of four Democrats. That means that the majority can set the agenda, over my objections, pass legislation, over my objections, and even change zoning and spend money, over my objections.

When Committee Member Kevin Kuchinski approached me at the break, I told him I was voting “no,” aware of the sad and pointed reality that my one  “no” vote could not change the outcome.  As the lone vote “no,” it would have been nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory, and the severely flawed contract would have been rammed through by the four Democrats. But then he asked what it would take to get my vote to make it unanimous…

 I jumped at the chance to help the residents of the Hopewell, and began some good old-fashioned horse trading.  I fought tooth and nail to remove all of the provisions that 100+ residents had rallied against.

I was able to get rid of the worst activities allowed: chemicals, physics, engineering, and similar fields.

I am a farmer. My dedication to the environment and Hopewell is unquestionable. Parents should be able to enjoy the many parks and lakes in Hopewell with their kids, without the concerns of the environment being contaminated by toxins from a potential chemical plant.

I encourage you to come to council meetings and make your voices heard, because I will always listen and do everything I can for you as residents. No matter how impossible the odds, you must always keep fighting for what you believe, and I believe in the residents of Hopewell.

John Hart, Jr., Hopewell Township

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