The only real choice on May 7th is for Berkeley Heights to vote no. Name-calling aside (which I’ve received plenty of, as a StoptheBAC.com supporter), this election is about one issue: whether the will of the Town Council can be subverted by a non-taxpaying, non-resident, members-only business (BAC). The Town Council has repeatedly said no to BAC because it is bad for Berkeley Heights. So should you, for reasons ranging from taxes, to destroying a neighborhood, to hampering in-town growth:
1. Taxes: The Town Council and the Mayor (not just StopTheBAC.com supporters) have stated there are serious issues with the sewer plant handling the amount of chlorinated water that BAC is handling. If BAC’s chlorine seriously harms the sewer ecosystem, Berkeley Heights may need to retrofit or upgrade at such a high cost that the Mayor has said the town might have to float a 20 year bond. Plus, Berkeley Heights has already spent more than $100,000 on this special election and litigation brought about by BAC. BAC is not reimbursing the town one penny for that money. What kind of tax increases, service decreases, or both, will come about to support this members-only, out of town business?
2. Destruction of Neighborhood: Do you want a Walmart in your backyard? Neither do the residents of the Emerson Lane and Free Acres Neighborhood. BAC is proposing a 51,000 square foot building, which is larger than a football field, along with hundreds of parking spaces. The Emerson Lane and Free Acres Neighborhood has existed for over a century. It will be destroyed by a monstrosity that is supposed to be open up to 18 hours a day.
3. Hampering In-Town Growth: The Town Council has stated that it must take a long term view of sewer capacity, and the long-term view is that BAC’s capacity could threaten business growth, meaning new tax revenues and jobs, in town (including two hotels and an office building).
If you still aren’t convinced to vote no, the League of Women Voters is holding a public forum on the election on April 24, 7:30 in Columbia Middle School. After hearing from a Berkeley Heights councilmember, StopTheBAC.com and BAC, I am confident you will be voting no on May 7th.
Thank you for your time.
Jonathan C. Wishnia