Egg Harbor Twp. – Joined by area municipal officials, Republican Freeholder At-Large candidates Tom Ballistreri and Manny Aponte along with District 3 Freeholder Frank Sutton today called the recent legislation forcing more low and moderate income housing in Atlantic County communities (A-500) and court decisions increasing the number of required housing units to be built a ?crushing blow? to towns struggling to control sprawl and property taxes and said it would make Atlantic County less affordable.
“The legislation and courts? decisions lack common sense and are not grounded in reality,” said Ballistreri. “The Trenton politicians are forcing towns to cram more low and moderate income housing into areas which cannot sustain any more growth.”
“It’s the ultimate unfunded state mandate that will just cost property taxpayers more money,” said Aponte. “This decision will not only place added strain on county transportation infrastructure, but it will also force towns like Egg Harbor, Galloway, and Hamilton Townships to build more residential units, increasing school enrollments, clogging our roads, and eliminating open space.”
?Worse still,? said Ballistreri, ?the recently adopted legislation imposes a new development fee on all commercial development of 2.5% of the value of any new commercial improvements. The Trenton politicians may call this a development fee — but let?s call it what it is — a new tax on commercial developers.?
Under state housing laws, municipalities may transfer their low/moderate income housing obligations to other municipalities under so-called regional contribution agreements (RCAs). Municipalities which have little or no space for additional housing work with other municipalities which do have the need for more housing. However, recent legislative efforts would eliminate RCAs as a valid planning tool for towns and judicial decisions have caused an increase in the number of low/moderate income housing units each town must construct.
“This is a stab into the heart of our quality of life,” said Aponte. “The courts have recently said towns cannot charge developers to fund open space and recreation. Now, on top of that bad decision, we have to pave over our remaining open space with even more housing to meet the demands of another state agency. Our natural environment is what makes Atlantic County special.”
Ballistreri and Aponte say they are looking into the possibility of joining other municipalities in a lawsuit to contest the number of mandated affordable housing units each town in Atlantic County must build.
“A lawsuit may be the only means we have left to defend our way of life,” said Ballistreri. “With the bill to end RCAs sitting on the governor’s desk, we don’t have any hope for sensible affordable housing reform that we desperately need. This is just getting shoved down our throat.”
“If the lawsuit comes together, we would support the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders getting behind it,” said Aponte. “This situation takes a united front of our local elected officials, freeholders, and our Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina, who voted against the bill, to fight bad court decisions and bad legislation that have the effect of making New Jersey less affordable.”