To the Editor:

If we have learned anything from this affordable housing issue, it is that there has been virtually no true thought or real community engagement as to what would work best for our Township. Numerous questions have come forward, suggestions as well. But when faced with real solutions, the basic answer is we are out of time. This may be true, but another fact out in the most recent meeting was that the now failed and abandoned, overly expensive, municipal building plan had been in the works since 2018.

Just like the signs from your yards, your time to find a real solution was stolen as well.

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It seems now that the River Road solution is a cheaper way to go, but certainly not palatable to those living there presently. The disregard for our ordinances and rules pertaining to steep slopes and so on will be disregarded for this project as well. Will it solve the problem at hand? Yes.

Will it cause possibly more issues and make profound changes to the community that already exists there? Most certainly. The folks who live there presently should be compensated accordingly as part of the affordable housing deal.

When looking for viable sites for housing we were told that existing property up for sale was explored, without success. Drive by and unanswered offers just doesn't work.

Our town has changed lot in the last 58 years I have been around. Our state has also, with placing these crazy demands on all of us. But knowing where we are and what is coming in the future lends itself to opportunity and vision. We certainly can never have this debacle we are in now happen again.

This is why we must look at creating a redevelopment zone and a better town center. The stretch on Southern Blvd. from Shunpike to the police station is one of the most viable solutions. This area could provide for future affordable housing as well as other business opportunities. The cost to do such is never what anyone wishes to expend. There are state programs that do incentivize redevelopment zones and connectivity, that could help offset the impact on our local taxes initially, and revenue created by proper use of this area could certainly exceed the investment in the long run.

We have a scattered business zone in this area already, senior care facility, high-density apartments, club, ball fields and playgrounds, offices and small businesses.

Acquiring, incentivizing, and promoting sound planning for affordable housing and business in this area would put those folks who need services close by in the correct area, making access to shopping and services simple. There is enough space for more businesses to provide for our entire community, along with creating a centralized area for transit services for everyone. A centralized space creating less issues for emergency services as opposed to 60 unit housing scattered about town is better. A redevelopment zone with incorporated businesses could bring in much-needed revenue for our tax base as well. It is time to visualize a real plan now.

We cannot make the same mistake we have done with open space. Although we acquired land, a good thing, we restricted open space, scattered it about and have little connectivity. Let's not repeat those mistakes in making the welcoming as well as the sustaining and viable community we must become in the future. My great grandfather helped build the roads in Chatham Township in a time when we converted from horses to cars. Local folks created the Shunpike to avoid tolls on Main Street, to "shun the pike". My grandfather, mother and I have seen farms and greenhouses go to apartments, bridle paths to walking and biking paths. Centralized shopping, and of course homes, neighborhoods and churches built and rebuilt. We have seen schools combined, separated, and combined again. All with a vision for a viable sustaining community.

It is now time to employ those same visionary ideas to continue an evolving community, to keep Chatham Township one of the top places to live in the country.

Regards,
Daniel Miller
Green Village section of Chatham Township