It has been a privilege to serve on the Berkeley Heights Township Council throughout my first term. Together with our residents, businesses, community stakeholders and volunteers, we have worked extremely hard to improve our Town. There is a small cadre of people who keep telling us how “bad” things are, painting a distorted picture of our homes, neighborhoods, businesses, town center, and schools.  Their desire for political presence has them on YouTube standing eerily silent beside a fringe candidate telling the State of New Jersey that Berkeley Heights is a "swamp" and making other derogatory comments.  I've paid taxes and lived here for over twenty years and have proudly served this Town as your representative.  I can assure you that our community is NOT a swamp, and those who make such claims are hurting our image and potentially our property values. 

Last week I published a TAPinto Candidate Statement which links to actual source documents in order to “set the record straight” as to my Republican Primary opponents’ mischaracterization of the Township’s Affordable Housing settlement in response to this unprecedented state-mandated obligation.  https://www.tapinto.net/towns/berkeley-heights/categories/candidate-statements/articles/separating-fact-from-fiction-affordable-housing 

To date, our opponents have failed to articulate an alternate strategy for how they would have the Township comply—This should come as no surprise since our opponent stated on the record at the September 20th Council meeting that he agreed with the terms of our settlement. Similarly, his running mate was not even a resident when our compliance efforts began in earnest during March of 2015, so it is equally understandable how he might lack the necessary background to understand our obligations.  This much, however, is clear—We achieved an extremely favorable settlement by any objective measure (a demand of 860+ units against a settlement of 389 with only a maximum of between 194-206 new units actually needing to be built).

Would we all like to stop over-development in Town and across the State—Sure.  But when faced with litigation compelled by the NJ Supreme Court, we developed and executed a strategic plan with the best affordable housing legal and planning experts in the State by our side.  The result was a settlement that even our opponent supported.  To suggest, as our opponents have that inadequate preparation or due diligence was performed on this and other matters is not only patently inaccurate, it is offensive.  This Council discussed the status of our obligations and the litigation at virtually every meeting IN PUBLIC over the past two years, and we have posted a litany of affordable housing explanatory summaries and project-specific documents on the Township’s website—The picture of transparency.  I will continue to enforce the terms of our hard bargained for settlement against the developers with projects in our Town and will continue to provide updates along the way as I have over the past two years.[1]       

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In the absence of any real plan, our opponents in this Primary continue to suggest that this Council has not been “transparent” in our dealings.  They and their surrogates have repeatedly attempted to present inaccurate and false information on social media, and their tactics are reminiscent of their attempts made in the past to discredit our schools and staff.  They have filed hundreds of Open Public Records Act requests monopolizing our municipal Clerk’s time with nothing coming from it. 

Most recently, our opponent actually sued the Town claiming that he was not only entitled to view the cost to police the wonderful local business sponsored Winter Walk community event, but also wanted to know the number and location of our police officers.  Not surprisingly, our Police Chief sought to redact that sensitive information since in this day and age, it would be unwise to reveal our staffing and security strategy for such events.  Even though he received the invoice and the cost information that he was looking for, our opponent had the audacity to sue the Town while running for elected office here, and in the process impugned the judgment of our Police Chief and Town Clerk.  On Friday, the Court ruled in the Town’s favor—However, we all lost too, since this unnecessary distraction cost us time, effort and legal fees to defend the claim. https://www.tapinto.net/towns/berkeley-heights/categories/news/articles/foregger-hastily-leaves-court-upon-losing-lawsuit 

It saddens me that these attempts are being made to frighten our Seniors and citizens under the guise of “transparency.”  These attempts and attacks have nothing to do with transparency and everything to do with discrediting hard working people for personal self-promotion and political gain. 

Jeanne Kingsley and I are proud residents of our community.  The best interests of our Town and its residents are always paramount.  We have never resorted to name-calling and smear tactics.  We never will.  We have a proven record for you to review:  negotiating State-Mandated housing settlements, protecting our Town from over-zealous developers’ density demands, collaborating with our Board of Education to share services and reduce costs, partnering with organizations and volunteers to provide new services and Town improvements, and vehemently pursuing public-private partnerships. 

For those who want to tell you that “nothing” has been done, perhaps it is because they want “nothing” to be done.  But time moves forward…not backward.  We work together to accomplish a vision and to maintain our small town feel.  We listen to hear concerns and ideas.  We volunteer to make a difference.  Serving as your representatives means protecting our Town, its values, its employees, its volunteers, its residents….not suing them….or disparaging them in front of Dunkin Donuts, door-to-door, on Social Media, and website review platforms. 

Leadership means working effectively with a community to take action and bring about positive results….Results that make a difference today and in the future.  We ask for your continued support in the June 6th Republican Primary.  Registered Republican and Unaffiliated voters can participate in the Primary Election.  We ask for your vote by choosing Column E.  Please learn more about us at KingsleyFaecher2017.com and thank you for your continued confidence and your vote.  Elections do matter because you, the people of Berkeley Heights, matter to us and to our future.

Marc Faecher

[1] A WORD ABOUT PILOTS:  Our opponents are now raising for the first time, their alleged concern over the use of Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) for certain of the projects that are part of the settlement—The use of PILOTs was expressly identified in the individual site settlements which are incorporated into the overall affordable housing settlement.  PILOTs are frequently used across the State to reduce the overall cost of the project to make the project economics work—This reduces the density and number of units.  PILOTs also dramatically reduce the amounts paid to the County (they only get 5% instead of 25%).  Therefore, more money stays with the municipality instead of going to the County or State—PILOTs further help the Town by ensuring that these projects get built in a responsible way and that the Township’s interests are protected (e.g., nice looking projects that meet our design standards, with decent amenities, as much open space as possible, all at reasonable densities).