LTE: Systemic Racism vs. Environmental Stewardship

 I am a retired Episcopal Priest and a resident of the Hopewell Valley for 37 years.  I deeply appreciate the character of our community, the open spaces in which we live. The attempt through our 2002 Master Plan in the Township to preserve its character is challenged by the Mt. Laurel I and II Decisions of the New Jersey Supreme Court that every municipality is to provide its “fair share” of affordable housing.

These decisions are one way to address the systemic racism that has permeated our society for far too long.  Recent racial unrest has once again brought racism and systemic racism front and center to our societal conscience.  The Parish to which my wife and I currently belong is in a dialogue in the ways we can confront and change the culture of our Church.  It will be a struggle to truly make the Church a more diverse and welcoming community.  My observation is that our communities of the Hopewell Valley are in that same struggle.

As the recent opinion piece by some of the former mayors of Hopewell Township show, our 2002 Master Plan inadequately addresses the issue. Some people, in their quest to preserve the “open” character of our community, would “close” the door to diversity?  Should we not recognize the need for diversity and continue our dialogue through planning for our future what I firmly believe we are called to become: a community that values both environmental stewardship and economic diversity?  I believe that the current leadership of Hopewell Township recognizes fully what needs to be done.  They are leading us in our struggle to obey both our civil laws and well as our Creator’s will!

Faithfully,
The Rev. Canon John C. Belmont
Proud resident of Hopewell Township

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