To the Editor:
The discussion on Hopewell Township’s affordable housing obligation is an important one, not only regarding the specifics of how much housing goes where, but also our response to it.
I’m a relatively new resident of the township, but I feel welcome here, and I believe it is important to extend that same welcome to the residents that may come to Hopewell Township as a result of any new construction that occurs. Our individual differences are a collective strength, and as we extend those open arms to a greater variety of backgrounds, we will grow richer as a community, both from the perspective of longtime residents as well as the newcomers.
I understand there are concerns about the impact new construction and growth will have on existing residents. Let’s talk about those concerns as a community, but let’s also keep in mind that our township was founded in 1700. Centuries of residents have passed through Hopewell Township, each responsible for the present and the future. Today, that responsibility belongs to us, but it’ll fall to our children and grandchildren as time goes on. The idea of taking care of the residents we have now versus those who may come here isn’t an either-or choice.
Some in our community would like to see only the affordable housing portion of the obligation built. That may have less impact in terms of space, but as the Township Committee’s presentation explained at the Feb. 26 meeting, it would have a major financial impact on us as a township. Beyond that, mixed-income housing developments provide societal benefits for both those in the affordable housing as well as the market-rate, as the Urban Institute found in its 2010 review of literature (https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/27116/412292-Effects-from-Living-in-Mixed-Income-Communities-for-Low-Income-Families.PDF).
My home, Brandon Farms, has some affordable housing included, and day-to-day I give no thought to which home is in which category. Ultimately, we’re all neighbors, and we share many of the same concerns as people and as residents.
One of those concerns, of course, is the environment, so let’s use our collective voice to insist that any new development reflect 21st-century environmental technologies, like graywater systems and permeable pavement, to make sure that our water is reused to the extent possible and returned to the aquifer for residents who rely on it.
And finally, let’s remember that this is a public debate, and eyes are on us. Make sure that your concerns are addressed by our leadership, but also make sure that Hopewell Township’s welcoming feel is apparent not only to prospective new residents, but new businesses and job creators that have a whole range of places from which to choose. This debate is about more than new homes. It’s about how we want our town to be perceived, and as a proud Hopewell Township resident, that reputation is important to me, as it should be to all of us.
Andrew Borders, Brandon Farms (Hopewell Township)