Tuesday, May 02, 2006

NJ Housing News

From the Star Ledger:

Caldwell weighs 'steep slope' limits

A proposal to build 10 condominiums along Central Avenue in Caldwell near Bloomfield Avenue is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday night before the borough's zoning board.

But a vote by the Caldwell council tonight on whether to restrict building on "steep slopes" in the borough may affect that proposal and others suggested for hilly sections of the community.
Last month, the zoning board began hearing the application for 10-attached condominiums on a two parcels of land 32,000-square-feet in size on Central Avenue. The projected, titled "The Brownstones at Caldwell" would require a variance to put a residential development in a business zone.

The proposal calls for two buildings, each with five condominiums, no more than three-stories in height. Each unit would have a driveway, a single-car garage and a deck.

A new look on the way for Cranford's south side

For decades, the south side of Cranford's downtown was an architectural hodgepodge of clashing buildings, with an ultra-modern bank next to an 1890s-era hotel lo cated near a strip mall.
But over the next few years, much of that is going to change, not only because of the Cranford Crossing project now under construction -- a parking garage, 22,000 square feet of retail and office space and 50 luxury condominiums -- but because plans are in the works for commercial and residential developments that will redefine the east and west ends of the central business district.
Downtown Cranford is experiencing an incredible development surge. In addition to Cranford Crossing, a 3.5-acre site bordered by South Avenue and the Rahway River is slated for commercial development and an estimated 100 townhouses.

Another 75 residential units were just approved for a 4-acre va cant tract on South Avenue, alongside the old Central Railroad of New Jersey tracks. The three-story residential complex will become the defining point for the eastern end of the downtown area; on the western edge, a Walgreens will soon replace the Bradley Corru gated Box Co. on South Avenue, Prunty said.
While Cranford may be in the spotlight now, when it comes to the communities along the Raritan Valley Line, the focus is likely to shift to Somerville, where a 112-acre site, a former dump, is slated for development. The site is within easy walking distance of the train station.

Clinton Twp. accepts Windy Acres plan

To a mix of grudging acceptance and glum objections last night, the Clinton Township Council and planning board approved the latest version of their settlement with Pulte Homes over the proposed Windy Acres development.

The council approved the contract 3-0. Mayor Nick Corcodilos did not participate because he is a nearby property owner, and Councilwoman Rose Marie Malaker was absent because of illness.
The first option under the new contract remains from last year. Pulte could build 365 age-restricted units plus 90 residences for low- or moderate-income persons on former farmland, and would provide land for another 60 affordable homes.

From the Asbury Park Press:
Developer argues that Mount Laurel took land illegally

The state Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in a case that could have national implications for a municipality's right to use eminent domain to slow development and preserve open space.

A developer, MiPro Homes LLC, wanted to build 23 single-family homes on a 16-acre parcel at Elbo Lane and Hainesport-Mount Laurel Road in Mount Laurel. The township seized the property to preserve it as open space.

MiPro sued the municipality, and a lower court ruled the township acted legally. The Supreme Court did not issue a decision.
Baron argued the township acted in "bad faith" by waiting to condemn the land until after the developer received necessary approvals. The land was zoned for residential development in the municipality's master plan, he said.

"If the condemnation can take place without any planning, what would stop a municipality from taking any property because they don't like the use?" he said.

From the AP via the Star Ledger:
Jersey's economic growth tails off early in 2006

Economic growth in New Jersey slowed in the first three months of the year, burdened by an increase in initial unemployment claims, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported yesterday.

The regional bank's latest monthly forecast projected moderate economic growth of 2.2 percent through the end of the year.

"Basically, the first quarter in New Jersey was a little slower on most measures, but overall, the economy is in pretty good shape," said a bank economist, Vice President Theodore Crone.
"Housing was a big driver previously, and now it's going to level off," as it is doing nationally, he said. "It is sort of the exhaustion of a rapid expansion."

From the Herald/Record:
Sharing helps towns cut costs

With hundreds of municipalities -- all with their own infrastructures -- and soaring property taxes, finding any way to cut costs is no longer a luxury for local officials in New Jersey.

It's a necessity.

"We have 566 towns, approximately 700 fire districts and hundreds of school districts," said Susan Bass Levin, commissioner of the state's Department of Community Affairs. "Each year, the budgets get tighter, costs go up and towns face the pinch of rising utility bills, collective bargaining and increasing health insurance.

"We need to do a better job of streamlining our operations."
So why aren't more municipalities sharing services?

"These are quality-of-life services which are different from manufacturing widgets in the private sector," Dressel said. "You have to be concerned about making sure that all [residents] are going to receive the same level of services under a new cooperative agreement.


Blogger Metroplexual said...

"Baron argued the township acted in "bad faith" by waiting to condemn the land until after the developer received necessary approvals. The land was zoned for residential development in the municipality's master plan, he said."

I think this may be the exception to the Kelo decision. Baron is right they acted in bad faith. After all the money spent to acquire approvals, and the hurdles the municipality put them through they do this. I hope Baron

I was actually wondering when someone would try this. After the Kelo decision at the Supreme Court towns feel emboldened and this is a way to stop development.

My municipality tried to stop a 500 unit development after the approvals were given and then sued saying the land was environmentally sensitive. Just a bunch of BS. To add insult to injury they then sued to get the developer to provide the COAH units that the development made as an obligation. (it was only incurred do to the foot draggin of the town council)They lost both suits to the tune of around $700,000 in legal fees. I would not be surprised if my town tries this trick.

5/02/2006 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

Metro, you said: I met Senator Arlen Spector up in Scranton yesterday at Steam Town NP he is a big advocate for the project. He is a good guy. If you are a train buff it is worth the trip to go to Steam Town.

That is amazing. Did you get chance to talk to him about that? I would move to Poconos if the train starts.

I used to live near Rte 80 (Mt. Arlington) before and can understand the pain of Traffic going east. Now I moved south to Bridgewater, and I see even more traffic on Rte 78. To put salt on the wound, I see large mensions and houses taking up acres of land in Bedminster, Basking Ridge, Bernardsville, Lamington etc... and people complaining we have no land !!! If you see on Google map, you can see there is vast land available, and you will not cut any Tree. In fact with the money Towns can make, they can buy land that is environmentally sensite and preserve it as park.

What amazes me is that why middle class folks don't see it this way. I can understand the Rich folks living in Rich towns resisting new development, as they think it is their birthright. But the middle class folks, have to live in cramped housing in middle class towns, and they support building of Mansions !!!

5/02/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

Shailesh, what is your obsession with developing on any and all land?

If someone has the money to live on 10 acres in Bedminster, good for them. Why such bitterness about their success?

I think you picked the right town in Bridgewater, as it's filled to the brim with condos and walls and walls of pale blue vinyl siding.

5/02/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...

I meant to say I hope Baron sues.


I was at a bistate meeting that was meant to bring attention to the project and the elected officials involved in it. I only briefly met Specter because I am not an elected official.

Unrealtor is very realistic in his assessment. Those municipalities with 10+ acre zones like it that way even though it is exclusionary imo. As long as they can justify the zone sizes through the nitrate dilution model and have their COAH plan in place they are bulletproof.

Also the more rural a place is in NJ the more likely you will have high bulk requirements for zoning with the DEP's blessing. The highlands and planning areas kind of guide that philosophy these days.

BTW Mt Arlington's park and ride should be up and running. Too bad your still stuck in I-80 traffic.

5/02/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

unrealtor: What is your obsession with no-development ???

My point is very simple. If NJ allows jobs to come, then it must allow same amount of housing to be built. You can't expect people to work in NJ but don't live in NJ.

I do understand that there are other factors such as Interest rate & Psychology are important in determining price, and they are changing already. That will push the prices down, but I don't think the prices will come down 40% (I believe you mentioned that earlier). My analysis on RE says at the most we will be down by 10% to 20% only on average. Of course you will have occasional lowball, but I am talking average, so don't give me one example, it has be over large portion of data. Now, even if the prices come down 20%, you have 2% interest rate increase (from 5% to 7%), so that nullify any price reduction.

Hence, how much ever, I hate price increases, the bottom line is many folks who do not own RE are actually now out of market.

And you asked, If someone has the money to live on 10 acres in Bedminster, good for them. Why such bitterness about their success?

In reality that's not how zoning laws got created. They got created, by rich residents who controlled the town politics and passed restrictive laws. They themselves could not afford to buy the same 10 acre at today's prices. They bought it long ago, and then made laws to restrict anything new.

And the last point, You & I can not change anything of Interest rate etc... They are global market driven. At the least, the folks who can't afford housing can ask legislators to look at the issue. I am sure there are many better ways to solve the issue, but only after you agree that there is a problem in Housing, you can come up with solutions.

5/02/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...


NJ has affordable housing, it is in PA. As for zoning laws, they are constantly in flux. The only dynamic pushing lot size requirements these days are the anti-kid planning board and landuse boards along with town councils that have developed a siege mentality when they see kids.

5/02/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

Unrealtor: I am not expert in Land planning area, nor do I know very long history. I am just suggesting what I see on the ground.

Metro: You mentioned earlier & through your posts also, It is apparaent that you work or have experience in this. I will buy the argument that you gave on zoning if it was based on some real proven science.

I still feel that there may be more options that have not been looked at. I do feel, the supply side is an issue. I understand that Unrealtor does not think so. I wish him good luck.

5/02/2006 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...

"We have 566 towns, approximately 700 fire districts and hundreds of school districts," said Susan Bass Levin, commissioner of the state's Department of Community Affairs. "Each year, the budgets get tighter, costs go up and towns face the pinch of rising utility bills, collective bargaining and increasing health insurance."

BTW her nickname is Susan Bin Laden. I have had the displeasure of meeting her. I was in a conference where she was moderator and everyone in the panel (3 people) were touting connectivity of road networks and its health benefits for walkers and to allow more choices for routing traffic and how cul de sacs prevent this. Anyway, it gets to the last question and I timidly ask her (Bin Laden)why the DCA doesn't have a connectivity index requirement in their road templates when it comes to developments. Needless to say the conference went over by 15 minutes with her having to field more questions. I love throwing bombs at the state folks! I spoke to her afterwards and she said "people like cul-de-sacs" so they stay. I have no problem with them if they are incorporated well in a development. However, not when going to get milk requires you to drive 2 miles when a 1/4 mile walking trip would only be necessary if a development was planned correctly.

5/02/2006 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

Shailesh, for the 10th time: there is no housing shortage, there are 27,909 NJ houses on the market as we speak...


I don't understand why you want to impose your approach on everyone -- some towns have large lots, some towns have small lots, pick the town that suits your needs.

Many of your posts have strong socialist leanings, are you aware of that?

5/02/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous m reynolds said...

UnRealtor said...

"Many of your posts have strong socialist leanings, are you aware of that?"

You say that like it is a bad thing. He just adds to the diversity of opining here.

5/02/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

"You say that like [socialism] is a bad thing."

LOL, I'm not surprised you would say that, m reynolds. Stalin, Castro, Mao any of these murderous thugs ring a bell?

"He just adds to the diversity of opining here."

Who implied he shouldn't post? He'll just remain perpetually disappointed living in a free market society.

5/02/2006 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous m reynolds said...

Scandinavia is socialistic the thugs you detail are "communistic" dictators. Very different animals.

5/02/2006 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

Scandinavia is not a country. I think you want something like France, with unemployment over 10%, and riots on the streets every week:


(triple-click to select long links)

Communists are "socialists in a hurry," and those thugs were all socialists.

5/02/2006 02:29:00 PM  
Anonymous m reynolds said...

Where do you get this dreck. First, scandinavia is region comprised of 3 socialist countries. They are not communist in slow motion. There is a difference. FYI, Norway has the highest per capita income in the world. pretty nice for communists in slow motion.

5/02/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

Unrealtor: He'll just remain perpetually disappointed living in a free market society.

I have made money on RE boom market. I can tell you most people coming to this board have missed that boat. I am writing after analyzing policies and research done by economist. And, I do understand Free market, and have succeeded in it. I have true enterpreneurial spirit, and I know I can survive in any market.

On top of that, I believe in good society, where legislators look after for the citizens. If you would like to know, just Google on my name and you will see amount of work I have done. I don't have to get your approval.

At the least, try to write your comments with some thoughts and decent remarks.

5/02/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger chicagofinance said...

"I can tell you most people coming to this board have missed that boat."

This comment is both presumptive and flame bait.

5/02/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

Chicago: If you take those words in isolation, I can understand. But my point was the RE boom of last 6 years is not going to available for someone buying in next few years.

In reality, Unrealtor's comments seems to be more derogatory at times. He has only one opinion, and does not understand what is difference of opinion. He does not understand the basic philosophy where you agree to disagree, and also try to understand before you post.

If there was all the housing available in world, why would be there a bubble??? Everyone would be able to afford the house they want.

5/02/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

"Where do you get this dreck."

Read it in the NY Times, so it must be true. Regardless, Scandinavia still isn't a country, and Norway with a population half as large as NJ, doesn't even have a military -- i.e., it exists at the pleasure of other countries providing its defense, as do the coat-riders in Canada.

"Successful" socialism is an illusion, successful capitalism is real -- the United States.

5/02/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous UnRealtor said...

Shailesh, your mantra boils down to "the government should help" for every problem you perceive.

You're free to write whatever you want, just as others are free to comment.

Don't take my comments personally, they aren't meant that way.

5/02/2006 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

Shailesh, your mantra boils down to "the government should help" for every problem you perceive.

Actually, my mantra is Government should level the playing field. I am not for Govt subsidizing anything, raising taxes or anything like that. My point is Govt should look at this as NJ state issue and look for ways to level the playing field. The fiscal disadvantage that towns have by allowing SFH with Kids, should be removed. Towns still has luxary to decide what to allow, at least there will be fiscal disadvantage.

Govt has always been involved. If laws that are already in place are perfect, then why even elect legislators? There is simply no need to make new or change existing laws, Right !!!

5/03/2006 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger chicagofinance said...

"Government should level the playing field."

"I have true enterpreneurial spirit."

The former destroys the latter, and then the U.S. will stumble into irrelevance soon after.....

5/03/2006 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous m reynolds said...

Instesd the Gov't in the US allows for private gain and public loss. look at the RTC from the early 90's. As well as Chrysler. You free marketers are great until it fails in this country. Then you make big excuses and dismiss the bailouts. Welfare for the rich.

5/03/2006 09:01:00 PM  
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5/18/2006 05:19:00 PM  

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