Tomorrow is Home Invasion Day at my condo development. Oh, burglars aren’t going to come to take away my television, my now-ancient hard-drive or monitor, my cameras, or my books (heaven forfend). No, this is the invasion of the bureaucrats.
October is Fire Safety Month. Every five years, the Fire Department comes around to inspect our units, mainly to make sure that we have smoke alarms, that nothing blocks the exits to the unit, and that the electric box in the basement, and the box inside the home are accessible.
Oh and since we share a basement, we must make sure that all our junk is covered (my upstairs neighbor is so nice and tidy; but I periodically clear out the junk – everything that’s there is supposed to be there). I have to make new labels this morning because the old ones fell off. The power box is on my side of the basement so I have to make sure there’s access, which there is.
But since the condo management association’s last missive, we have new worries. My poor cat, Chopin, died this summer. I had him put to sleep when the vet discovered he had tumor in his spleen. My poor baby. Well, he was 15 and that was that. In the process, however, he made a mess, as animals who can’t walk often do. Then his sister, in reaction to these unwonted events, proceeded to pee and poop where her brother had been dying. The stench was terrible, admittedly.
I tried every cleaning solution known to pet owners. However, as soon as I cleaned it up, she messed it again. One of my neighbors complained and soon, the letter arrived. If you have pets, we’d better not smell the slightest odor. I was successful in cleaning it up and came up with the solution of putting a plastic runner down under my piano, where all this happened.
I’m taking no chances. They’re certain to be looking for other evidence of non-compliance. I bought a new smoke alarm; the old one had given up the ghost. This alarm has a lithium battery that the salesman said had life of ten years. That should see me through two home invasions. They’ll also probably be looking for signs of mold and mildew. Therefore, I had my younger brother paint my bathroom ceiling. There’s a little mold on the wallpaper, but I bought a solution that should take care of that.
The only difficulty left is my kitchen. My cabinets are falling apart. They’re 40 years old and before I lost my job a year and a half ago, I had intended to remodel the kitchen. New floor, new cabinets, smaller appliances, the works. But here they come and there’s nothing I can do about it. According to the regulations, they can force me to sell on the grounds of inability to keep up the apartment. Mom has said she’ll pay for the remodeling. I hope she means it, because they’re serious.
This is what you can look forward to when the Sustainable Economic Development Plan advocates come to your town. This is what living in “high” or “medium” density housing means. You own the insides, but because you live in an attached unit, even if you’re an owner, the association and the local bureaucrats can tell you what to do in your own home.
That’s an alien concept to detached, single-family homeowners. Renters know it but they don’t care because it’s the landlord’s problem. Here in my condo complex, we’re allowed up to two pets. There are guidelines for walking and picking up after your pooch (rightly so). Both cats and dogs have to be licensed. My Daisy is Cat No. 386. Cats must be vaccinated even if they’ve never set foot outside and never will. Make sure you have the vaccination certificate handy.
Once you’re taxed out of your home and into a “sustainable,” high or medium density apartment, you probably won’t be allowed to have animals. Too many insurance risks. You won’t have much room to store your stuff. We’re lucky to have basements. Most condos and townhouses are built on slabs. The current models have garages, but as sustainable development means no car, you may not have a garage.
The latest target on Sustainable Development’s radar is Mahwah, N.J., in Bergen County. Mahwah is the largest town in Bergen County, at 26.2 square miles. Like West Milford, it has a large population of 25,890, according to the 2010 Census. The town has a very comfortable median household income of $92,971 (per capital $53,375). Its poverty level is low (3.1 percent) which climbed up 1.1 percent since 2000, with the increase of minorities in the population.
But it’s the high-end homes that probably bother SD most. The median home price is supposedly a cool $7.8 million. The residents pay an average property tax of $15,890. Their crime rate is low. Mahwah ranks among the Top 40 of New Jersey high schools, with very respectable SAT scores of 570 (Math) and 544 (Verbal). Mahwah High has an SAT participation rate of 95 percent and a graduation rate of 94.7 percent.
As Mahwah’s white population has declined since 2000 by two percent, it’s Black and Hispanic populations have increased each by 2 percent. The Asian population has increased by over 1 percent with 6.31 percent in 2000 up to almost 8 percent in 2010. By now the Asian population has reached and probably exceeded that 8 percent number.
By type, single-family homes make up the majority of housing units in Mahwah. But, when you combine the number of attached units, 54.6 percent of the housing units are bundled together. Anywhere from two- to 20-plus units. Some go as high as 50-unit housing, which meets the definition of high-density housing.
Here is what the Township of Mahwah’s Sustainable Economic Development Plan has to say:
On March 27, 2012 the Township of Mahwah received approval from the New Jersey Highlands Council to proceed forward with a $20,000 grant to complete a Sustainable Economic Development Plan. An Economic Development Plan is one of the optional elements within a Master Plan, which can be broadly described as a plan with efforts and activities aimed at increasing the local tax base, providing new employment opportunities and improving the overall economic and social sustainability of a community.
Sustainable economic development is described by the New Jersey Highlands Council as maintaining and expanding the existing job and economic base by promoting appropriate, sustainable and environmentally compatible economic development. According to the Highlands Council’s Regional Master Plan, the objective of a Sustainable Economic Development Plan is to ensure long-term, sustainable economic viability, not short-term economic activity. Thus economic growth should be accommodated in a manner that takes careful advantage of the unique and valuable built and natural resources of the Township. This is an important concept in a municipality with more than 7,600 acres of County and State parkland, 20 historical homes and structures, three archeological/prehistoric sites and two historic districts. The challenge is finding the balance between capitalizing upon and protecting these community assets.
The project will consist of four phases. The first phase is primarily background research on existing economic conditions within Mahwah. The second phase involves public outreach. Maser Consulting has crafted two surveys, a business owner and customer survey, to gather valuable information from the public. The information obtained through the surveys will be used in formulating the final document. Both surveys are presently posted on the Township’s website. The third phase will be a public workshop, which will be held this fall. The last phase will be the creation of a draft Sustainable Economic Development Plan.
In the past, city residents moved out to the suburbs in search of larger homes to raise their families, good schools, safe neighborhoods, and freedom from onerous taxes and regulations. The new breed of suburbanite coming from cities like New York, particularly the Asians, care for none of that, except the good schools – and that’s only the Asians who worry about SAT scores. In the towns with the highest-ranking schools in regard to SATs, there is a significant, and even a majority, Asian population. However, some of those towns, wealthy though they are, also have gang problems, particularly Princeton.
Mahwah is a Republican town, with 29.2 percent of registered voters registered as Republicans. The Democrats are 23.5 percent and Independents at 47.3 percent. How long they’ll stay that way depends upon the influx of minority populations. Asians tend to vote Democrat (and “Asian” can mean anything from Japanese to Chinese to Indians to Iranians). The Chinese are used to living in high-density housing. They own their apartments (no houses) only in the sense that they can sell their current unit in order to move to another one. Their child cannot inherit any of their “property” because they don’t own any. The Chinese live at the pleasure of their Communist government.
Mahwah has an unusually high percentage of unregistered voters – 46.75 percent. That’s nearly half the population. In the 2008 election, 82 percent of the 53.24 percent of registered voters turned out. The turnout will be considerably less for off-year elections and town council meetings.
As you can see, the SEDP has no intention of allowing Mahwahans to “stretch out.” Nor will you be allowed to use those open spaces even for recreation without a permit. The Chinese youth in China are encouraged to amuse themselves with electronic games and close their eyes to the politics, which they do because they don’t want to get shot.
Mahwah’s population density was a comfortable 1,007.7 people per square mile (compared to the city of Passaic’s 22,179.60 people per square mile – in a city that only has 3.2 square miles). The Mahwah Town Planning Board and Maser Consulting want Mahwahans to sleep through the SEDP process. When you wake up, you’ll no longer be a suburb, but back in a crowded city again, living cheek by jowl with your nuisance neighbors, and subject to frequent home invasions by budinsky bureaucrats.