NJ Supreme Court Steamrolls Suburbs into Creating Even More Affordable Housing

The other day, as I was typing out a recent blog, I heard a familiar rumble – two rumbles actually – a little more distant than usual, but still audible and ominous. Another two sections of Federal Hill in Bloomingdale had been blown into oblivion.


Bloomingdale and the Tillcon Quarry are in a race against time. In January of this year, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of expanding the Affordable Housing mandate.  But a new foe has arisen in the languid New Jersey Assembly:  Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale).  Schepisi has either sponsored or co-sponsored no less than 11 pieces of legislation to beat back the assault on New Jersey suburbs.


We are facing the equivalent of housing Armageddon.  A non-profit entity with ties to developers, The Fair Share Housing Center, is attempting to force towns across the state to build 280,000 affordable housing units throughout New Jersey in the next nine years.

Residents in towns across the state, Democrat and Republican alike, feel as if they have a proverbial gun to their head.  They are being forced to enter into settlements that could be disastrous to their communities as a result of lawsuits brought by this non-profit.  They are spending money they don’t have to fight unreasonable court-mandated obligations. This is an unwavering threat to taxpayers who can’t afford already nation-high property taxes.


We cannot let the courts get away with allowing a non-profit that has no constitutional power to force towns into building what they don’t need. It is also unfathomable that the court would legislate what is best for individual communities. If the Fair Share Housing Center gets its way, the state will be unrecognizable and the change will be irreversible.  If allowed to stand, these mandates can raise property taxes and destroy many other benefits we have come to enjoy in the already most densely populated state as well as create serious social services and educational problems.


A special giveaway to developers allows New Jersey to be forced to build approximately 1.4 million homes – a minimum 2,500 per community; a true social engineering disaster that most don’t want and did not ask for.  The assemblywoman has introduced two bills to the New Jersey Legislature giving it time to stop the mad drive to erase local control of our communities, raise our property taxes even higher and change the face of our communities forever.

The suburbs and your town are being squeezed head to toe and although he is Republican, Gov. Chris Christie is no ally in this fight.  He is at the vanguard of a regionalization plan that would wipe out our local identities and severely hamper our already struggling municipal services.


As reported on North Jersey.com on Jan. 18, 2017: In a decision that could reshape hundreds of communities, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Wednesday  [the day of publication] that municipalities must allow the development of affordable housing for poor and middle-class families whose needs were ignored for more than 16 years.


The state’s top court voted 6-0 to reject arguments advanced by several towns, Gov. Christie’s administration and the League of Municipalities, who said local governments faced no legal requirement to provide affordable housing for poor and middle-class families during a period spanning from 1999 to 2015.


The ruling — and dozens of recent settlements negotiated separately by towns — are likely to spur the development of tens of thousands of affordable housing units in New Jersey over the next decade. But it is unclear exactly how many. Estimates vary widely and the Supreme Court did not settle that issue on Wednesday.


The Fair Share Housing Center, a nonprofit that argued on behalf of poor and middle-class families, said towns would have been able to avoid up to 60 percent of their affordable housing obligations over the next decade if the court had ruled the other way, leading to more racially and economically-segregated communities.


“This ruling means that thousands of lower-income and minority families will be given the opportunity to live in safe neighborhoods, send their children to good schools and work at jobs where they live instead of traveling hours commuting each day,” said Colandus Francis, chairman of Fair Share Housing Center’s board and an official with the Camden chapter of the NAACP.


Michael Cerra, assistant executive director of the League of Municipalities, said the ruling raised more questions than answers and would generate more litigation in the lower courts as experts try to decipher how many affordable housing units must now be built. But the justices also attempted to “forge a compromise” on Wednesday, he said, because they rejected some arguments from the Fair Share Housing Center and, as a result, municipalities’ obligations will not increase as much as some housing advocates wanted.


In a decision written by Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, the high court once again reaffirmed its commitment to a series of landmark housing rulings in the Mount Laurel cases that date to 1975. The New Jersey justices for decades have said that the state’s poorest residents have a right to affordable housing opportunities in their communities and that towns must allow a reasonable level of development.


Enforcing the court’s housing decisions, however, has been a haphazard process. Suburban towns have resisted the Mount Laurel rulings over decades of follow-up litigation. The state Council on Affordable Housing, or COAH, which was created to oversee the program statewide in 1985, has been famously broken for years and stopped issuing rules in 1999.



The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the delays had gone on too long; it ordered towns to sidestep COAH and go directly to trial court judges to settle affordable housing disputes.


But then the question became what to do about housing needs that went unfulfilled from 1999 to 2015, the period during which COAH was paralyzed. LaVecchia wrote that the court would “waste no time” settling that question. The state constitution requires municipalities to provide affordable housing for the “gap period,” she wrote.


In effect, the state Supreme Court made their ruling retroactive, a controversial move.


“The Mount Laurel constitutional affordable housing obligation did not go away,” LaVecchia wrote.


“Attending to that need is part of the shared responsibility of municipalities,” she added later.”


In an extreme liberal interpretation of the state’s constitution, Northjersey.com quoted the judge as saying, “We hold that towns are constitutionally obligated to provide a realistic opportunity for their fair share of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households formed during the gap period and presently existing in New Jersey.”


Although Christie opposes the Mount Laurel mandates, the four justices he has appointed — Anne Patterson, Faustino Fernandez-Vina, Lee Solomon and Walter Timpone — all joined LaVecchia’’s opinion, as did Justice Barry Albin. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner did not participate in the case.


Christie was not involved directly, but the Attorney General’s Office had filed a brief concurring with one town, Barnegat, whose attorney argued that it had no obligation to provide affordable housing for the gap period. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment Wednesday.


One of the central questions before the Supreme Court was a technical one: Which legal term should be used when calculating a town’s unfulfilled affordable housing obligations from 1999 to 2015?


The state’s Fair Housing Act of 1985 orders municipalities to consider “present need” and “prospective need.”


Attorneys for the Fair Share Housing Center had urged the court to rule for “prospective need.”  That would lead to thousands more units being built, they said. But the justices went with “present need,” and they redefined that term to include the housing obligations that stacked up from 1999 to 2015, “a period of time affecting almost a generation of New Jersey citizens,” LaVecchia wrote.


Kevin Walsh, the lead attorney for the Fair Share Housing Center, said the ruling was nevertheless a breakthrough.


“This decision clears away one of the main obstacles remaining in the fight for fair housing in New Jersey,” Walsh said. “The towns who [sic] were fighting in court are outside the mainstream and now know that they will not be rewarded for further obstruction and delay.”


Staci Berger, president of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said state residents have been buffeted by a recession, record foreclosure rates and Superstorm Sandy.


“Our hardworking families, seniors and people with disabilities have struggled to find homes they could afford during this time,” she said. “New Jerseyans and their needs did not simply disappear during the gap period, and as the court ruled, they cannot be ignored.”


Cerra said the justices’ ruling “doesn’t really provide finality.”  Experts will now go back and forth in the lower courts debating how to calculate towns’ housing obligations, he predicted. Out of 565 municipalities in the state, 150 to 200 have yet to resolve what level of affordable housing they will be providing over the next decade, Cerra said.


“The ruling provides little guidance and will likely result in additional property tax resources being expended,” said Michael Darcy, the League of Municipalities’ executive director. “We again call upon the administration and legislature to craft long-overdue reforms and promulgate a reasonable, rational state housing policy.”


The state justices said that from now on, municipalities calculating their “present need” must account for “overcrowded and deficient housing units,” as well as “an analytic component that addresses the affordable housing need of low- and moderate-income households created since 1999.”


Households that were low- or moderate-income from 1999 to 2015 must still be in that income bracket presently and must still be located in New Jersey in order to count, the court said. Officials should not factor in deceased people or double-count units that already have been deemed “deficient,” LaVecchia added. As before, municipalities also must continue to factor in their “prospective need,” which estimates future demand for affordable housing.


Whether to provide zoning for affordable housing, and how much, are issues that have divided the state for years, often pitting Democrats against Republicans. Some wealthy suburban towns and rural municipalities warn that the court’s mandates would lead to more sprawl and higher property taxes.


“This court-ordered overdevelopment will change the landscape of many communities,” said Assemblyman Parker Space, (R-Warren). “It will decimate open space while forcing taxpayers to pay for additional services to handle the increase in population. Property taxes will skyrocket.”


Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale, criticized the court and said “the failure of the legislature to address the social engineering of the court should not result in changing communities forever.”


“This ruling clearly creates potential challenges for municipalities who already built out much of their developable land over the last 16 years,” said Joseph DeCotiis, an attorney at the DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole and Giblin law firm, which represented Brick Township. “Additionally, many developers who already have planned market-rate housing on properties in many of these municipalities may be forced to reconfigure those designs to meet new requirements at their own cost.”


Although several bills have been introduced in recent years, New Jersey lawmakers have not advanced any legislation on affordable housing matters since a failed attempt at reform in early 2011. Christie for years has shown no interest in fixing the program or enforcing the state’s affordable housing laws. But the Supreme Court said they are welcome to try again.


“We recognize, as we have before, that the legislature is not foreclosed from considering alternative methods for calculating and assigning a municipal fair share of affordable housing, and to that end, we welcome legislative attention to this important social and economic constitutional matter,” LaVecchia wrote.


The Supreme Court upheld a ruling issued last summer by the state Appellate Division. Although that decision was much more favorable to towns seeking to tamp down their housing quotas, the justices drastically modified it in a way that will ramp up housing obligations.


Fair Share Housing Development FSHD was founded in 1986 by civil rights activists in response to the landmark Mount Laurel Doctrine, which prohibits towns from shutting out the poor through exclusionary zoning and requires each New Jersey municipality to plan, zone and take the necessary affirmative measures to provide realistic housing opportunities for its “fair share” of the regional need for affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income households, the elderly and disabled.

The Mount Laurel Doctrine has led to the development of over 60,000 affordable housing units outside New Jersey’s racially and economically-segregated urban centers.


According to its website, the Fair Share Housing Center “fights to defend the rights of New Jersey’s poor by monitoring, enforcing and expanding the Mount Laurel Doctrine.”


Fair Share Housing Development (FSHD) is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit corporation with offices in Mount Laurel and Camden, N.J.  The organization was founded by Peter J. O’Connor in 1986 to develop, own and manage affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families, seniors and the disabled in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.


FSHD and its predecessor organizations, the nonprofit housing programs of the Carpenters Union of South Jersey, have three decades of experience in developing and managing affordable rental housing. FSHD currently manages 656 rental units in five affordable housing complexes in southern New Jersey with over 2,000 tenants.


In 2000-2004, FSHD developed Ethel R. Lawrence Homes, Phases I & II (140 units), Mount Laurel Township, Burlington County. Evans-Francis Estates at Short Hills Farm, Cherry Hill Township, Camden County (54 units) was planned for development in 2010, but is currently in litigation with the Township’s Planning Board regarding development approvals.


In addition, Fair Share Housing Development is slated to develop another five affordable housing developments in suburban New Jersey in the next several years, including a 24-unit single-family development for families in Mount Laurel; a 36-unit addition to Ethel Lawrence Homes; a 184-unit senior/assisted-living development, also in Mount Laurel; a 76-unit development for the elderly in Cherry Hill at the site of the former Garden State Racetrack; and a 100-unit family rental development in Woolwich Township.


FSHD’s work receives crucial support from and lends support to several other organizations. FSHD’s most longstanding partner, the Fair Share Housing Center, was founded in 1975 and continues to support the work of FSHD by providing legal and technical expertise and, when needed, the ability to litigate to circumvent the many obstacles and overcome the resistance that affordable housing has elicited in suburban communities.


FSHD also plays an important role in the City of Camden and in the region surrounding Camden. Inside Camden, FSHD serves the role of a traditional community development corporation, and its employees there participate in civic activities with other organizations.


FSHD Executive Director Peter O’Connor himself was long involved with other organizations in Camden and he served in a volunteer capacity for more than a decade as the Chairman of the Holy Name of Camden, a neighborhood-based organization that includes a church, school, law office, medical clinic and family counseling program. He was also the Chairman of the Catholic Camden Diocese’s Housing Development Corporation, which develops primarily senior affordable housing in the six most southern counties of New Jersey.


FSHD has a very visible presence in the region and is a strong voice in support of affordable housing development outside of areas of entrenched poverty. Several other for-profit and nonprofit entities are involved in developing affordable housing in suburban South Jersey, but no other entity has FSHD’s record or commitment to the development of affordable housing that promotes regional mobility for residents of the City of Camden and strives to reach very low-income households.


Peter J. O’Connor, who died in 1988, long fought for social justice. O’Connor arrived in Southern New Jersey following his graduation from Georgetown University Law Center. His work as a Legal Services attorney involved law reform efforts in landlord-tenant, consumer, housing, mental health, and state/federal civil rights law.


As the lead counsel in the Camden Coalition litigation in 1970 to 1972, O’Connor challenged the City of Camden’s “urban revitalization” and highway construction efforts that caused massive displacement of Camden residents. O’Connor’s efforts gave rise to a White House campaign spearheaded by Vice President Spiro Agnew to limit the activities of federally-funded Legal Service programs.


In May 1971, O’Connor and two other Legal Services attorneys, Carl S. Bisgaier and Ken Meiser, filed suit on behalf of individual plaintiffs and the NAACP to challenge suburban Mount Laurel Township’s refusal to permit affordable housing in Mount Laurel. That case, Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Mount Laurel, was appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1975, and again in 1983, and led to the first requirement in the nation that all municipalities provide for their fair share of the region’s need for affordable housing.


In 1985, the Legislature passed the Fair Housing Act, which created the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing, an executive agency empowered to ensure compliance by New Jersey municipalities with their Mount Laurel obligations. Since COAH’s creation, over 59,000 units of affordable housing have been constructed in New Jersey.


Over four decades after he started working in South Jersey, O’Connor’s interests in urban deterioration, affordable housing, and regional equity continued . From 1978 to 1980, O’Connor spearheaded the construction of the 402-unit Northgate II development in North Camden, a project that formed part of the settlement of Camden Coalition lawsuit. The complex has on-site management, maintenance and security staff and also provides social and recreational services.


In 1983, O’Connor worked in suburban Deptford Township developing New Sharon Woods, a 50-unit affordable housing development for families. In 1986, O’Connor developed Pennsville Towers, a 100-unit affordable housing project for seniors. He also has worked on rehabilitating houses in North Camden.


In 1995, O’Connor completed a historic rehabilitation project he envisioned in the Cooper Plaza Neighborhood of Camden. The 64-unit project, Cooper Plaza Historic Homes, adjoins Cooper Hospital and has received national and statewide attention in view of the successful historic rehabilitation of it and ongoing management and stabilizing effect in the area.


Most recently, O’Connor’s work focused on advocating for and constructing long-awaited affordable housing for moderate-income, low-income, and very-poor families and seniors in Mount Laurel and Cherry Hill. In Mount Laurel, Fair Share Housing Development built and manages Ethel R. Lawrence Homes, a 140-unit rental development that is named in honor of the lead individual plaintiff in the landmark Mount Laurel litigation.


That 62-acre development, which received the Governor’s Housing Excellence Award in 2001, represents the culmination of three decades of work to construct truly affordable housing in a municipality whose resistance to it has become infamous. Social, educational, and recreational services are provided to the residents of the development, which include families making from 10- to 80-percent of median income, a range of affordability with a depth and breadth previously unknown to suburban New Jersey.


On March 29, 2006, the court approved an agreement with Mount Laurel Township whereby the Township agreed to provide pre-development funds and capital grants to assist Fair Share Housing Development in the development of an Outdoor Recreation Area, Indoor Recreation Area and Education Center adjacent to Ethel R. Lawrence Homes.

Ethel R. Lawrence Homes, which opened in Winter 2000 and has received extensive local and national media attention, was dedicated in Summer 2002. Julian Bond, the chairman of the NAACP, spoke at the Dedication. In a demonstration of the significance of the project from a civil rights standpoint, the names of the 40 people who were killed during the Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968) were read from the stage by the plaintiffs, ending with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Fair Share Housing Development is slated to develop another four affordable housing developments in suburban New Jersey in the next several years, including, a 24-unit single family development for families in Mount Laurel, a 184-unit senior/assisted living development in Mount Laurel, a 76-unit development for the elderly in Cherry Hill, at the site of the former Garden State Racetrack and a 100-unit family rental development in Woolwich Township, the fastest growing municipality on the East Coast according to 2004 Census figures.


In addition to putting shovels in the dirt, O’Connor assisted the fight for fair housing rights in New Jersey courtrooms. As the founder and former Executive Director of Fair Share Housing Center, O’Connor served a s part of the team of FSHC lawyers representing the original Mount Laurel plaintiffs in litigation against Mount Laurel and Cherry Hill Townships which has forced those municipalities to provide for their fair share obligations.


O’Connor represented the plaintiffs in litigation against the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for its perpetuation of racial and economic segregation through the use of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the first case of its kind in the nation; and against a corporation that attempted to redevelop the former Garden State Racetrack in Cherry Hill without providing any affordable housing on-site, a case on which the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2002 released a unanimous decision in favor of the plaintiffs after it took the case on interlocutory appeal directly from the trial court. Additionally, O’Connor succeeded in negotiating a settlement with Woolwich Township that will result in 100 units of housing for families, including very-low income families.


O’Connor’s legacy of development and advocacy interests continues to focus on reducing the concentration of poverty in the inner cities of New Jersey, fighting racial segregation in housing and public schools, and working to develop high quality affordable housing in a state with the second highest rental housing costs in the nation. NJ also remains one of the country’s more segregated states.


The effort of the Mount Laurel plaintiffs, O’Connor, and others to provide regional affordable housing opportunities is the subject of Our Town: Race, Housing and the Soul of Suburbia, by David L. Kirp, John P. Dwyer, Larry A. Rosenthal of the University of California at Berkeley.


O’Connor was also a professor at the Fordham University School of Law in the Bronx, N.Y. He graduated from Fordham in 1951 and from its law school in 1956. He earned a master’s degree in law from Harvard Law School in 1957.  Earlier he had been an assistant district attorney and chief of appeals in Queens County, from 1967 to 1970, and an assistant district attorney in Manhattan under District Attorney Frank Hogan, from 1957 to 1962.


At least, that’s how the social justice activist judges and attorneys saw it. The city of South Brunswick didn’t share FSHD’s “idealistic” vision of social engineering.


In an article in the The Observor on April 7, 2017, reporter Salvador Rizzo noted the seemier side of judicial activism:


Things are getting personal in the seemingly endless legal fight over how much affordable housing to build in New Jersey.


After South Brunswick lost a court case seeking to tamp down its affordable housing obligations, the township’s attorney, Jeffrey Surenian, filed court papers last week attacking the judge who issued the ruling.


The allegation is that former Superior Court Judge Douglas Wolfson had a conflict of interest because earlier in his career Wolfson represented and befriended a developer, Jack Morris of Edgewood Properties, who allegedly stood to benefit financially from Wolfson’s rulings last year calling for more affordable housing units to be built than some towns wanted.


Surenian added that Wolfson’s son worked at a law firm owned by Morris’s wife while the housing rulings were coming down, and that when the judge retired in December he went to work as general counsel at Edgewood Properties. The judge “brazenly violated” the judiciary’s core values, South Brunswick alleged in a March 28 court filing, asking that Wolfson’s housing rulings be vacated.


Attorneys on the other side of the issue called Surenian’s allegations a baseless attack from a lawyer who often loses affordable housing cases. Surenian regularly appears before state courts representing towns that in some form or another are seeking to dial down the amount of low-cost housing they are required to zone for. In recent years, Surenian has lost repeatedly at the trial courts and in the handful of cases that have reached the state Supreme Court.


The Fair Share Housing Center, a nonprofit that represents poor and middle class families in housing cases by designation of the courts, filed papers noting that Morris and Edgewood Properties had no involvement in the South Brunswick case.


“There is no rule or court decision in New Jersey that provides that a judge who is hearing a lawsuit involving Developers 1-5 must recuse from the lawsuit because the judge is friends with Developer 6,” Kevin Walsh, the lead attorney at Fair Share, argued in a court filing.


“A friendship with a developer does not preclude a judge from being involved in any lawsuits simply because other developers are involved,” Walsh wrote.


Walsh added that “Judge Wolfson’s career as an attorney who represented developers was known by all involved in the matter.”


Surenian argued that even if Edgewood Properties was not a party to the case, it nonetheless stood to benefit from Wolfson’s rulings since they would expand the opportunity for all developers to build low-cost homes in Middlesex County. But Surenian noted that Wolfson recused himself from hearing cases that involved Edgewood Properties directly.


Wolfson, who is married to U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson, said Friday he could not comment on specific cases he heard as a judge.


But he said “it is a matter of public record … that I disclosed to the court-appointed special masters and all counsel my relationship with Mr. Morris, and in fact recused myself from several cases in which he or any of his companies were adverse to either to the town or to any of the other potentially competing builder/intervenors who sought to gain a favorable rezoning through the litigation process.”


“Since my opinions in this case must speak for themselves, I can only urge you to read them yourself so as to gain a complete and unbiased understanding of what has actually transpired in this case since July of 2015, and to judge for yourself what the motivation is for this belated filing,” Wolfson added.


It’s not clear that South Brunswick would get a better outcome under a different judge. The state Supreme Court last year issued a major ruling settling some of the same affordable housing questions, and not in the township’s favor.


According to Assemblywoman Schepisi, who spoke at the North Jersey Regional Tea Party meeting recently, five days after Judge Wolfson stepped down, he joined the plaintiff’s legal team.


Schepisis describes the New Jersey legislature as “complacent.” They fear battling the racially-oriented Fair Share Housing Center  and Fair Share Housing Development.  Municipalities fear developer-remedy lawsuits.  Towns are caught in a trap in which they must either accept 100 percent affordable housing, which is unpopular with most voters, or accept it in increments at about a 1 to 5 ratio.


Developers are anxious to build market-rate housing. For the opportunity to build high-density housing, with a 50-year property tax break sweetener thrown in, they’ll set a side certain, small number of units to meet the affordable housing requirement.  However, the population increase in general sets the town back further on its affordable housing requirement, opening the town up to even more incursions by developers, zoning planners and their attorneys.


North Jersey Tea Party members wanted to know just exactly who the developers envision occupying the market-rate housing, when residents are fleeing the state. As native New Jerseyans are fleeing the Garden State, its high property taxes, and onerous business climate, Long Islanders are trying to flee the island.


The developers are targeting residents on Long Island who work in New York City and Millennials who would like to live in the City but can’t afford the unbelievable rents. I used to work for State Farm Insurance as an internal public affairs writer.  Long Island was my “beat.”  Workers there told me – some ten years ago now – that the middle class was being squeezed off the Island.


Eastern Long Island is the abode of the rich, famous and wealthy.  Western Long Island is increasingly the receptacle of the poverty and crime spreading out from the city.  With their poverty, these Section 8 and Affordable Housing residents and families bring crime, drugs, and lower property values, along with higher taxes for the social services they require, including special education.


There is no haven for the middle class on the northern and southern shores of Long Island:  the North Shore has long been the abode of Old Money (i.e., Theodore Roosevelt) and the South Shore has become the new Gold Coast.  Middle class and upper Middle Class residents and families have no place to go.  These are the residents – and their progeny – whom the developers are targeting.


Long Island’s middle class is basically squeezed into the center of the island, on either side of the county line. Housing is tight, increasingly more expensive and crowded.  Thanks to all those wealthy finance brokers and summer celebrities, Long Island’s cost of living is skyrocketing.


In the last 15 to 20 years, minorities from New York City have overwhelmed Nassau County are slowly encroaching on Suffolk County to the east. Uniondale (55.5% Black), (Westbury, 23% Black, 19% Hispanic) in central Nassau County are, or nearly are, minority-majority cities.


But in addition to the problems of crime, once you get out into Suffolk County, commuters are looking at a longer, more expensive trek into the city whether by car, train, or less likely, by bus.  The North and South Shores of Long Island are like Eastern Long Island, the abode of the wealthy.  The North Shore has historically been the seat of Old Money; the South Shore is wall-to-wall new mansions lined up cheek-by-by jowl along every inch of the shoreline and far inland.  Villages on Long Island are part of larger, incorporated townships, with new, sustainably narrow roads that are designed to discourage the use of automobiles in favor of mass transit.


Long Islanders are essentially city people.  They have no problem living in rental units in close proximity to one another.  They are also, as I noted, Democrats.  Eventually, between the very rich (by northern New Jersey standards) and the poor, the vote will be flipped.  What is left of Conservative Republicans will disappear by their target year of 2050.  Bergen County is already nearly totally blue.  I’m surprised you were able to win election in Bergen County.  But even they have woken up and realize their quiet lifestyle is in danger from such vulnerable towns as Paramus.


Thus, Long Islanders are turning their weary eyes to forested hills of New Jersey. Passaic County is well within the acceptable commuting distance of New York City.  Young Long Islanders, in particular, who have no desire (yet) to own a home or the time or money to maintain one, are eager to move into our unsightly, towering condos.  In Bergen, a high-rise tower is being planned for the center of Paramus, the assemblywoman told us.


Avalon Bay, just as an example, offers every amenity to the newly-transplanted Long Islander. Swimming pools, saunas, fine restaurants.  According to Assemblywoman Schepisi, the affordable housing dwellers are set off to one side and do not have such privileges as the use of the swimming pool.


Bloomingdale, where I grew up has been an early advocate of sustainable development.  Like nearly every other town in northern New Jersey, they officially signed on to the Sustainable Development creed in 2009. So has Riverdale, in Morris County.  Pompton Lakes, where I live, is on schedule to complete an even more ambitious plan for “affordable housing” along its main business route, Wanaque Avenue, by 2020.  Their plan is to build five-story rental apartment buildings along Wanaque Avenue, completely changing the nature of the town along the lines of Montclair.


Pompton Lakes also plans to narrow – not widen – but narrow Wanaque Avenue to follow the Sustainable Development plan of discouraging the use of automobiles.  Towns on Long Island have already redeveloped their business districts in this way and let me tell you, it’s a nightmare.


The residents of Bloomingdale woke up too late to the fact that their town was being remodeled.  The area where Avalon Bay is located used to be a shooting range and an illegal garbage dump.  The EPA used this fact to have the property condemned as an “urban blight zone” and then redesignate it for multiple dwellings.  Our friend, David, came up north from Texas to attend his daughter’s college graduation.


I had to honor of giving him a tour of an area he hasn’t seen much of since he graduated high school in 1973. He was horrified when he was Avalon Bay. When I warned him about “development” he thought I was talking about some houses along Union Avenue. I pointed skyward and then he saw the Monstrosity of Union Avenue – with more plans in the works for the now-demolished Federal Hill area.


Northern Passaic County district, has been a leafy haven for drug gangs.  Wanaque has had problems with MS-13 for going on 20 years.  They are at the hub of what has become known as the “Heroin Trail” running north from Pequannock, through Riverdale and on up into Ringwood and West Milford, where the meth factories are located.


The drug pedalers/peddlers (they make their runs on bicycles) board the northbound 197 up into Ringwood in the morning and return in the evening to make their “deliveries” all night long until the police shift change at 8 a.m.  I’ve seen them.  They leave markers or portkeys, just as the old Soviet spies used to do, to indicate where the customers can pick up their drugs.  The dealers hide their goods in take-out bags.  The customers pull up, make the exchange.  The dealer pedals off and the buyers take out the drugs and throw the fast food out the car window and drive off.


The assemblywoman made note of the Liberals’ hypocritical oversight of infrastructure problems, particularly water.  At a time when it is predicted that New Jersey will not have enough water for all its residents (no matter how many water towers they build), they advocate building affordable housing complexes that encourage even more use of water through air conditioning and swimming pools.


The Suburban Trends, our local newspaper, readily publishes the news about a critical overuse of water, yet they write nothing about the demand on water consumption these affordable housing units will create.


As for social services, our volunteer emergency responders are already overtasked.  I bought a police band radio to find out what was really going on in our area, because we certainly can’t depend upon our local newspaper (a bi-weekly) to tell us.  What I’ve discovered is that on emergency medical calls, it can take up to 20 minutes just to find a driver for the ambulance before they can respond to the emergency.  I have a 93 year-old mother.  I’ve told my brothers that, on the weekdays at least, don’t bother waiting for the ambulance – just go.


Illegal immigration is nothing new to our area – the illegals have been here for 20 to 30 years and in that time, the incidents in crime have gone up, especially at the stores on Route 23.  Criminals have held up the local Target store as well as our fast-food restaurants.  The incidents in stolen cars have also risen, as well as drug overdoses and suicide attempts.


The goal of “Sustainable Development” is an attempt to eliminate property ownership and force residents into communal living warehouses.  It is a decidedly Marxist goal.  In Russia and China, citizens do not own property.  They don’t even own the units they live in; their heirs cannot inherit these units.  They are returned to the state.


I live in a condo myself, one that was converted from a garden apartment in the 1980s.  I could not afford the price of a house or the maintenance of one.  As I’m single with no children, I’m content.  But I can tell anyone who is not living this lifestyle, it’s not exactly the propaganda brochure the Left paints.  For one thing, Pompton Lakes’ taxes are so exorbitant, thanks to the school tax that I pay almost as much in taxes as my companion who lives in a house with property in Pompton Plains across the highway.


We need to give this issue as much publicity as possible.  I don’t have a problem with people who want to live in a city or are nervous about owning a house.  This is America; you should live where you want to.  However, I don’t believe developers have an inalienable right to simply buy up a town and place high-density multiple dwellings in the midst of a quiet suburb filled with people who moved to that suburb precisely because they did NOT want to live in a city, big, small or otherwise.


More and more suburbanites are waking up to the dangers that Affordable Housing poses. Our way of life is under attack. We need to send a message to the social activist Judge LaVecchia that we thank her for her sneering “permission” to try to turn back the Affordable Housing mandate.  The Legislature, however, is not under any mandate to affirm her grossly unconstitutional reading of the state constitution and will her activism into reality.


She can accuse any of us or all of us of racism. But we can counter with a more pernicious accusation:  communism.


It’s her way or the highway? Her imposing judgment and Avalon Bay are precisely what Communism looks like.



Published in: on May 26, 2017 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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