Government

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick Urges State Legislature to Solve Affordable Housing Issues

1a41cc9ff79147b66bd3_IMG_4276.JPG
Hartz Mountain Industries is attempting to rezone and develop 905 apartment units at 750 Walnut Avenue in Cranford. Credits: Elizabeth Clee
09c39380640ebd419a29_tile-bramnick.jpg
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick Credits: New Jersey Assembly Republicans
1a41cc9ff79147b66bd3_IMG_4276.JPG

TRENTON, NJ – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) is calling for a special state legislature session to solve the issues in communities that are caused by affordable housing laws.

In January, the state Supreme Court ruled that municipalities must include affordable housing. If the municipality is not meeting the affordable housing quota, it can be sued by builders for the right to build more units on a specific plot in exchange for including affordable housing, Bramnick said.

“We have the wild, wild west right now,” Bramnick said. “Builders are suing municipalities and municipalities are confused. if you call any municipality and ask if it's clear what their affordable housing law is, it's not clear. For years, the legislature hasn't addressed it and the courts aren't setting a precedent. That happens anytime the law is unclear.”

Sign Up for E-News

Last month, Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso presented the town council with a resolution demanding that state legislators address the current affordable housing rules before local municipalities are overloaded.

“You can overcrowd the town, you can burden the infrastructure of the town, you can most definitely burden the school system,” Bonaccorso said. “You try to fix a low-income housing option so you destroy the school systems with overcrowding instead.”

In Cranford, residents are vehemently opposing a proposal by Hartz Mountain Industries to build 905 apartment units, with a percentage designated for affordable housing, on 750 Walnut Avenue, which is currently a commercial zone.

New buildings are popping up throughout Westfield as well, but Bramnick said he hasn’t been looking at those as closely.

“I’m clearly paying attention to Cranford,” Bramnick said. “My opinion is that the state legislature should make clear and concise rules as to when the court can rezone a commercial zone. Most residents don't want high density housing in a space that is zoned commercial.”

Bramnick said that bringing back regional contribution agreements is the first step the state legislature should take. Under those agreements, a municipality could transfer part of their affordable housing obligation to a willing town, normally an urban area, along with payment.

“I would put back in regional contribution agreements,” Bramnick said. “Many urban centers need gentrification and are willing to take on projects where there’s transportation and already dense housing.”

In addition, the legislators need to create clear and cut guidelines for municipal responsibilities, Bramnick said. Surveyors will include parks and other spaces of land in their reports when looking for buildable land, he said.

“The legislature should set forth exact and clear cut guidelines as to what responsibilities are for affordable housing,” Bramnick said. ‘Right now, there's real confusion as to what land is available.”

Bramnick said that this is not a partisan issue, but one that needs to be addressed urgently.

“There’s no Democrat that represents a municipality that thinks the system is working right now,” he said. “There's been tension between Governor Chris Christie and the legislature, but there's tension on everything. We need to get into a room and debate it. Unless someone calls for a special session or a crisis hits, I'm not sure that the Senate president or the speaker will call for hearings this summer.”

Bramnick said he thinks the legislature needs to stay in one room until the issue is resolved.

“I would have nonstop hearings,” he said. “I would be there until we fix it. I don't want the courts imposing high-density housing in towns where the legislature has abdicated the responsibility to the courts.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Cranford

Chlorine Drum Rupture Shuts Down Nomahegan Swim Club in Westfield

July 13, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — A ruptured chlorine drum has forced closure of Nomahegan Swim Club on Springfield Avenue Friday afternoon.

According to a Westfield police officer on the scene, a 1,000-gallon drum of chlorine ruptured.

In addition to the swim club being closed, some area streets around the swim club near the border of Mountainside and Springfield were cordoned off. According ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 11, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Earn The Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE) at Union County College in Five Weeks

July 17, 2018

CRANFORD – Union County College (UCC) will be offering the American Society of Administrative Professionals PACE Certification (Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence) from Monday, July 23 through August 22.

If you are an executive assistant, office manager, paralegal, program analyst, benefits administrator, supervisor or meetings and events planner, this program is for ...

Westfield Area YMCA: Take Swim Lessions This Summer

The Westfield Area YMCA is providing a free one-week guest pass to non-members which will also enable access to purchase a week of swim lessons at full member rates during the summer.  The one-week guest pass includes use of the Y’s fitness facilities, land and water group exercise classes and open gym/swim.

“Our goal is to have people of all ages and skill levels grow to ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

Open Letter to Cranford Planning Board

July 6, 2018

Open Letter to Cranford Planning Board:

As you know, Hartz is scheduled to go before the Planning Board on July 18th.  Since last year, Hartz has postponed their meeting numerous times with no pushback that we can see whatsoever from the Planning Board.  

We are asking the Planning Board to direct the planning board attorney to send Hartz’s counsel a letter requiring that ...