Our community and its leadership have to be nimble in meeting our state-mandated affordable housing obligation in a way that maintains what we love about our hometown and strives to mitigate the property tax burden on our residents.
The change to the Township’s affordable housing agreement, approved at the July 29 Hopewell Township Committee meeting, is needed because the change shifts part of the obligation between developers, does just that.
It is important to understand the stages in the process before any construction begins. Once a firm plan from the developer is in place, there will be studies including traffic and water, and the community will have plenty of opportunity to voice thoughts and concerns once a specific plan moves forward, whether that is at the Planning Board, Township Committee or elsewhere.
This aspect of the overall affordable housing plan, which concerns the land on the western side of Scotch Road nearest I-295, includes 125 affordable housing units and the associated market rate as age-restricted, lessening the impact on our schools. Along with the continuing care and retirement housing plan on the eastern side of Scotch Road, the Township’s affordable housing plan would include almost one-third age-restricted housing.
The Scotch Road location of the commercial elements in the change approved on July 29 is critical in both keeping visitors to the businesses there closer to I-295 and away from most of the community, and in making the Princeton Place office park and Capital Health hospital more attractive to tenants and employees, with those amenities nearby. The presence of those new businesses in the Scotch Road area will increase the value of the land there, helping to shift some of the property tax burden off of our residents. This commercial development will not include big-box stores, instead providing the opportunity for smaller businesses not currently available in the Township.
Finally, the passage of this agreement means the Township is out of litigation on its affordable housing settlements for the current round, ending the balance our leadership had to undertake in ensuring our community’s character and values remained in the plan while watching carefully the money spent on fighting for those values.
Mr. Borders serves on the Hopewell Township Zoning Board but writes as an individual resident.