To the Editor:

On Monday night, the Township Planning Board met to review two ordinances related to Affordable Housing that were previously introduced by the Township Committee. The Planning Board was tasked with determining if these ordinances were consistent with the Township’s Master Plan. Wisely, and correctly, the Board unanimously determined that Ordinance 2019 - 14 was not consistent with our Master Plan. As candidates for Chatham Township Committee, we applaud and fully support this decision. This Ordinance disguises its full scope with a reference name “Development Fee” in its title while by its plain terms it actually places an undue hardship on any Township homeowner choosing to make improvements to their own property.

Homeowners already pay significant fees (too many fees) for various professional services, permits and inspections in connection with such projects – not including the additional taxes that follow inspection and reassessment. Slapping what is effectively an additional tax on forward-thinking and sensible homeowners is not only unfair and unnecessary, it also discourages what we should all encourage throughout the community - proud investment by homeowners into their treasured homes. That investment makes our neighborhoods and community as a whole more valuable and a more desirable place to live. There can be no argument with that success story in this community for decades. Moreover, empowering the Township government to selectively gather funds, from a subset of conscientious homeowners (or anyone else), for the express purpose of future use related to the development of the affordable housing that outside forces seek to impose on our community is just a bad idea.

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If elected and given the opportunity to serve on November 5th, we affirmatively pledge that we will never support any Ordinance that places a burden on select homeowners to fund Affordable Housing mandates and will never capitulate to the ill-conceived, but alarmingly growing, calls to accelerate an affordable housing process that could change the face of the Township permanently. We are already facing challenges that flow directly from overdevelopment from surrounding towns, a byproduct of affordable housing zoning changes, that our present infrastructure cannot support.

We thank the Planning Board for their thoughtful, reasoned analysis. Previous Township Committees consistently recognized the need to protect the rights of property owners from this sort of infringement and we encourage the present Township Committee to support their recommendation. And we encourage all in the Township to observe who, on the Committee or seeking to be on the Committee, supports this ill-advised, unfair, and frankly “sneaky”, tax. Because with Hamilton and Estevez what you get are tangible and sensible positions on issues that actually matter - not vague, and laughably false, platitudes about cooperation.

Rez Estevez and Mark Hamilton
Republican Candidates for Township Committee