To the Editor:
This is a rebuttal in response to Ken Zeldis’ letter to the editor (Mercerme, October 26, 2018) claiming I am silent. During this, my first political campaign, I have had the privilege to meet many more residents of Hopewell Township. As I have walked the town, I have learned that there is indeed very significant concern about local affairs, notably the township’s affordable housing decisions.
There is confusion about why Hopewell Township agreed to sell a $5 million parcel to developers for $10,000.
There is confusion about why Hopewell Township would give developers a $96 million, 30-year tax break that experts have told us steals money from our schools and our firefighters.
There is concern that the township has not communicated clearly with residents about the impact of these changes. They are concerned that so many meetings are being canceled, and that residents are being treating harshly at the meetings.
I am often asked, door to door, what I can do to stop or even slow down these changes. I have told everyone that John Hart is right, “The horse is out of the barn.” But there are positive steps that can and must be taken.
I will not vote for another tax break for the developers. I will provide only one vote out of five, but I will press for a cost benefit analysis on any future PILOT agreements and I will urge that the school district and our firefighters be brought into such discussions as early as is possible and practicable.
I will urge that the township, working with Pennington and Hopewell boroughs, work directly with local seniors to create a much needed Senior Center, but one that is distinct from the township’s current plans.
I will urge that the township play its traditional role in urging the State Senate and General Assembly to modify its affordable housing rules. Those rules must take into consideration what makes Hopewell Township special, notably its rural beauty, its lack of sewer capacity and its role in delivering groundwater for 1.5 million residents of New Jersey.
I will urge the township to reach out more openly about these changes, and to do my utmost to make township meetings a more welcoming environment in which our residents, who are amazingly well-informed and knowledgeable, can contribute much more meaningfully to this process.
It has been a distinct privilege to walk the town and to listen to your concerns. Many of you have told me that local issues transcend party, and I fully agree with that. In this difficult time, we must place the interests of our township well ahead of party.
I ask for your vote on November 6. I ask that you join with me in voting for a change towards more transparency and openness in our local governing bodies.
Ed “Jack” Jackowski,