To the Editor:
As we enter the silly season of the final three weeks before the Primary Election, Bailey Brower has done what he always does in the final days of a campaign – he distorts, attacks and smears. But instead of the notorious “Brower Watchdog Report” he self-published in years past, this time he is relying on a barrage of letters to the editor. Let's fact check just the most outrageous claims of his most recent letter.
Mr. Brower favors a nightmare scenario where he believes the Township should have zoned enough land for our state-mandated 200 units of Affordable Housing and then we should have waited for a private developer to solve all our problems. He neglects to say that private developers are allowed to build four market-rate units for every affordable unit, which means the Township would have to zone for 1,000 new dwellings, (200 + 800) and then deal with the impact of thousands more cars on our streets and hundreds more students in our schools. No thank you, Mr. Brower.
Mr. Brower claims this option was never explained to the public. In fact it has been posted for years as one of the first Frequently Asked Questions on the Affordable Housing page of our Township website. It has been explained at countless public meetings. And it has been repeatedly rejected since 2015 by four Mayors, five Township Committees and two Township Administrators.
Mr. Brower claims “Kelly and Ness turned to River Road for the Fair Housing Site.” In fact the River Road site was part of the Affordable Housing agreement adopted by the Township Committee on December 13, 2018. That was two mayors ago (I was one of four Township Committee members who voted for that agreement), and it was before Ness was elected to the governing body.
Mr. Brower claims “Kelly dropped the ball” by not purchasing the Fenske Property alongside Nash Park on Southern Boulevard. Brower claims, with no knowledge, it could accommodate 24 to 36 units of Affordable Housing, “perhaps more”. In fact, multiple analyses have found that the 17-acre site has only about one buildable acre after subtracting wetlands and DEP-mandated buffers. It would be great to someday reach agreement with the owner on an acceptable price to purchase the property for Open Space or limited recreational use. But it's not a solution to our Affordable Housing issue.
Mr. Brower cites his 28 years on Township boards. Thank you for your service, Mr. Brower. But that makes you part of the problem because today's Township Committee is working to solve the Affordable Housing problems that you kicked down the road for decades.
And when Mr. Brower ends his letter with an endorsement for candidates Hamilton and Felice, the public knows that both these candidates are on record in favor of kicking the Affordable Housing can down the road still again. They favor litigation to fight against any Affordable Housing solution, even though they cannot point to a single New Jersey town that has avoided its Affordable Housing obligation through litigation.
Township voters will receive their Vote By Mail ballots starting next week; they must be postmarked and returned no later than Election Day, July 7. Voters are urged to vote by mail since only the one polling place at Long Hill Chapel will be open for Township voters on Election Day, and anyone who votes in person on Election Day can only use a paper provisional ballot.
Today's Township Committee is listening to the public. We are working to craft the best Affordable Housing solution for our community. I ask for your vote.
Michael Kelly, Mayor