To the editor:
I am somewhat overwhelmed by the Raritan Township's negative response to the residents’ request to place a referendum on this November's ballot.
This referendum would have our voters approve, or disapprove, the continuation of the township's Open Space tax of 1.5 cents per $100 of a property’s assessed value. This money would fund additional open space acquisitions and continue farmland preservation in Raritan Township.
In addition, the monies would enable us to leverage addition funds from the county and state Green Acres programs. Furthermore, as the county Open Space program is the sole source of historical grants for our municipalities, we would be able to apply for and access those funds for future township historic projects.
I find it ironic that the township would place on its ballot two years ago a superfluous non-binding referendum to rejoin with Flemington (Flemington left Raritan Township in 1910) with unstated and unclear intent. No problem there, as it was Committee inspired. However, a genuinely contrived idea, to protect and preserve Raritan Township for the short and long term is dismissed for the vaguest of reasons by members of the Committee.
The net effect of this tax on a typical Raritan Township residence - valued at $300,000 - would be $45 a year. A huge sum, I understand. Basically this is a regular gas fill-up for an average township family vehicle. Once a year would be the penalty for a resident to get beautiful land, preserved farms, clean water and air. Or do you just want more traffic and growth?
Just so you know, I am not anti-growth.
We have good plans for intelligent growth within existing zoning. As current Chairman of the Raritan Township Municipal Utilities Authority, we strive to better the township with growth opportunities and deal with the huge number of regulations imposed upon us by the state. But I take a long term view of the township, and always have.
The question is: Do you want to remain Raritan Township, Hunterdon County? Or do you want to become Edison, Cherry Hill, or some other such overdeveloped disaster?
Please contact your representatives, if you agree or disagree. This, after all, is still a democracy.
Pete Kinsella, Raritan Township
Former Mayor and Committeeman
Chairman Raritan Township Local Historians Committee