For many years Denville has had an upward economic progression. However, as the town grows the infrastructure has stayed exactly the same. Denville faces some extremely difficult problems and to date we have heard no plans from this administration as to how to meet them. In fact, we have heard that Denville is perfectly fine just the way it is. I am running for Mayor because we need to plan for the impact of the future, and solve the central problem which is how to expand our infrastructure to meet the pressing needs created by hundreds of new housing units.
Denvilles infrastructure requires maintenance and updating. In the summer of 2018 all residents were put on a water restriction, the reason? We were not short of water, but the pumps for our wells could not keep up with the demand. You would think that the administration’s response would be to work to expand pumping capacity. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Instead, they approved another 400 housing units which will further strain our water resources. They said they had to approve these new housing units because of court orders, which is all well and good, but when citizens asked that they plan for the impact on the town, they turned mute. Not just mute, but hostile to residents raising questions.
At a court hearing on these new units a “fair housing” expert testified that, even after the approval of the 400 units, Denville could look for more court orders to zone for “substantially more” housing in the future. We get an idea of what “substantially more” means when we look to other court rulings. When developers create new housing developments at least 15% will be set at affordable housing rates.
Princeton and West Windsor recently got court orders to zone for 735 and 1500 new affordable units Developers insist that market housing be built at a six or seven to one ratio with affordable housing. These court orders will double the size of these towns. Princeton is now about 16,000 residents, which is the same size as Denville.
These are not scary Halloween stories, this is the reality in other parts of the state. Why do we think it won’t happen here and why are we not creating innovative solutions to address this issue or planning for the inevitable impact?
Even a modest affordable housing ruling from the courts could see an additional 1000 new total units. What will be the impact on our schools, our traffic, our roads, our recycling programs, our police and fire protection, our utilities? We don’t know and the administration refuses to address these issues.
In fact, when the Denville Board of Education tried to explain to the Town Council how close we are to needing a new $30-50 million school, they were met with hostility and an active attempt by members of the Town Council to dismiss the data the BOE produced. This is hardly the attitude we need to meet the future needs of our town. We have the capacity to plan, and we must develop solutions for problems before they overwhelm us.
I have a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in public and nonprofit performance measurement and am qualified to lead this conversation. I saw many years ago the need for elected officials to be knowledgeable and use every resource at their disposal to create solutions that work now and will positively affect our future. The current administration is focusing on the superficial when we have to dig deeper when it comes to our schools, or the capacity of our water pumps and public utilities. We have the expertise in our community to plan for this future. What we need is leadership to tap into and direct it. You can not solve today's problems with yesterday's solutions. As massive amounts of new residences are built we can predict the impact on our schools, our traffic, our roads, our potable water and our police and fire protection. We must plan for the future.
I am here to lend my expertise in driving change. I hope you will support my efforts by voting this November 5th to propel Denville forward.
Andrea Zeydelis, MPA
Candidate for Mayor