Letter to the Editor: Blake Setting Record Straight on Township Issues

To the Editor:

There have been numerous mischaracterizations about the work of the Hopewell Township Committee. Please allow me to set the record straight on just a few of them:

The current Township Committee has worked proactively to meet our Affordable Housing Mandate while making the best deal for Township residents. My Republican opponent has told you that we sold the Zaitz tract behind Shoprite for $10,000. This is misleading. The $10,000 was part of a multi-million dollar deal that, in addition to providing for part of our Affordable Housing obligations, will provide the infrastructure to build the long-awaited Community/Senior Center and improve traffic at the circle. Over thirty years, it will bring $110 million in liquid assets into our operating budget through the PILOT (or, payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.

We have worked closely with the School District to make sure the needs of our students are kept at the forefront. My Republican opponent has told you that the PILOT “robs our schools of $56 million over the next 30 years.” This is patently false. In a public meeting, the school district confirmed that the PILOT will have no impact on the school budget; as the district report concluded, the agreement will have the positive impact of alleviating the overall tax burden on Hopewell Township residents.

The bipartisan Affordable Housing Agreement that the Township Committee unanimously approved reduced the number of required affordable units from 1,756 units to 653. It also dramatically reduced the ratio for market rate homes from Chris Christie’s 9 to 1 to Hopewell’s 4 to 1.

My Republican opponent has accused the Committee of being irresponsible in not building the 653 Affordable Homes ourselves. He does not tell you that, with infrastructure-related fees, each Affordable Housing unit costs an estimated $300,000 to construct. That would have left taxpayers on the hook for roughly $195 million or $32,000 per household. He may like that idea, but I will not ask taxpayers to shoulder such a burden.

My opponent has charged the Committee with not considering other options. His proposal that the Township pay to build our units in Trenton rather than Hopewell has been illegal since July 2008.

Experience and knowledge count.

Julie Blake,

Hopewell Township

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