To the Editor: One of the big issues facing our town today is about “affordable” housing: how many new units should we be building, and how many will the courts require us to build? The Mayor and Council have refused to accept a settlement from affordable housing activists to build over 500 new “affordable” (less than market-value) units. Doing so would require us to build over 3,000 new housing units town-wide (almost doubling what we have now), as developers usually build complexes like these in a roughly 6:1 ratio. Not surprisingly, the Township is taking this one to court.
As I noted at the Council meeting last week, there are only 4.5 acres or so of buildable land left in Berkeley Heights (not counting wetlands, which are protected from development by law). In addition, we’ve already negotiated an agreement with builders who wish to build additional units in the near future at places like the Kings/New York Mart property.
I fully support the Mayor and Council’s case and am confident the courts will find that building anywhere near 500+ affordable housing units is far too heavy a burden for us to bear. As the Mayor noted at the meeting, the governing body is relying entirely on the advice of our affordable housing legal experts, as they should. Neither the Mayor and Council, nor any candidate running in the upcoming November election for Council, has the specific legal expertise to change that reliance.
What a Council member can do is to bring their experience and expertise on the whole range of other issues that affect Berkeley Heights residents. How can we fix more roads, more quickly? How do we keep downtown businesses in business? How can we best support volunteers like our Fire Department? And how do we celebrate all the great things about our town, even as we seek to make it better?
My credentials as a lifelong resident and community leader – including 9 years of attending Council meetings, successfully pushing for progress on communications issues, volunteering on various committees, and speaking out about our roads, our downtown, and supporting our volunteers – easily make me the most experienced candidate, and shows why so many Republicans and Independents are crossing party lines to support me.
You can find out more about me and my vision for positive change on my website, yellin2016.com, and by emailing me directly at email@example.com.
Stephen Yellin – Positively Berkeley Heights!
Editor's Note: Stephen Yellin is a Democratic Candidate for Township Council in the upcoming November General Election.