Letter to the Editor: A local scandal and no accountability

Letter to the Editor: A local scandal and no accountability

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To the Editor:

About one week prior to election, Hopewell Township posted on its official website a lengthy document about its recent affordable housing agreements. At the last meeting of the Hopewell Township Committee, Committee member John Hart and several members of the public sought to determine who authored the document, who approved the document, and who posted the document.

Five days before the election, Committee member Kristen McLaughlin posted the link to the document on the Facebook Hopewell Township Issues page, but she did not claim authorship.

The only responses we received, before the Mayor abruptly ended the meeting, were from Mayor Kuchinski and from Deputy Mayor Blake, who told us that they had not read the document. Ms. Blake expressed a willingness to edit it, to take out any obviously egregious references, such as the criticisms of Governor Christie and of President Trump. Whatever you may think of these two elected figures, neither had any impact on Hopewell Township’s recent agreements with the court.

Of course, it’s way too late to edit such a document now that the election is over.

The document itself makes no mention whatever of the 2,881 new market rate homes that Hopewell Township has permitted developers to build!

Many of us have urged the township to build 100% affordable housing units in one or two areas rather than allowing so many market rate homes to be built. Instead, the document defends the decision not to build 100% affordable units everywhere across the township, an expensive and unworkable idea that no one favors.

Most of the answers are deceptive and match the disingenuous mailers that came from the Blake campaign. Notably, what will be the impact on taxes, schools, and government services of 9,000 new residents, a 50% population increase in just the next 8 years?

The building of Brandon Farms led to a new elementary school at Stony Brook and expansions at both the Junior High and the High School. The building of 653 affordable homes and 2,881 market rate units is roughly three and half times the size of Brandon Farms, but the document insists that there be no impact on the schools by 2025. I doubt that objective readers will believe that.

The document also claims that the controversial, 30-year tax break that Hopewell Township gave to the developers will have no adverse impact on taxes. Non-partisan reports from State Comptroller Matthew Boxer and from the Association of NJ School Boards claim otherwise. I do agree with one response, that the School District must still raise the monies they need. They have a fiduciary responsibility to raise the money, should future committees decide not to share incoming funds with the district.

We deserve to have a government that is committed to being open and transparent with us. Neighboring towns are dealing with these issues far more professionally. Ms. Blake will continue to be responsible for the votes she cast, and we will continue to hold her and the committee accountable whenever they are less than honest with us.

Cheryl Edwards

Hopewell Township

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