With good reason, we strongly support our private colleges and universities. They help maintain New Jersey’s well-educated work force – one of our most critical assets. They also provide local economic benefits, unique cultural exchanges and outstanding educational programs.
It is no secret that a student population produces additional vehicular traffic and markedly increases demands upon public safety and emergency services which are borne by local taxpayers. The institutions enjoy exemption from local property taxes by virtue of their non-profit status and have the advantage of being considered as an inherently beneficial use when they make an application before the local zoning board. We do not think it unreasonable to insist that they follow the same zoning rules as all other private non-profit organizations that contribute to similar public policy goals.
In the 27th Legislative District, these institutions are not surrounded by open space. They are quite literally our neighbors. The property they acquire is often next door to us or across the street from our homes. We believe the final say on their land use applications should be made by zoning and planning boards that are accountable to resident taxpayers.
For these reasons, we have been actively engaging the mayors of the hosting communities on this issue. We recently held a meeting in Trenton in which local officials educated the bill sponsor concerning the potential harm A-2586 could bring to our towns if adopted. You can be assured that we will continue to vigorously oppose this bill in the General Assembly.
Very truly yours,
Assemblyman John F. McKeon Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey