Sunday, June 18, 2006

Don't Stonewall Affordable Housing

From the Star Ledger:

Meadows towns pay the price of growth

In the past two years, towns in the Meadowlands have embraced redevelopment proposals to transform old industrial sites and landfills into thousands of housing units and millions of square feet of commercial space.

Now, the bill's coming due.

State housing rules enacted in 2004 require all residential and commercial projects to include a share of housing for poor and moderate-income families. The massive size of the projects -- 7,300 residential units, 27.5 million square feet of commercial, office and warehouse space and 2,750 hotel rooms -- could force towns to build 2,500 affordable units or more.

As the scale of development -- and the housing obligations they trigger -- became better understood, there have been sharp repercussions.
"It took us years to get the (state) to preserve wetlands and set aside natural resource areas for conservation," said Hackensack Riverkeeper Bill Sheehan. "Now, we've got judges telling towns they have to allow 20-story buildings on the banks of the river."
Earlier this month, state Superior Court Judge Jonathan Harris blasted East Rutherford and Carlstadt for stonewalling on affordable housing. He stripped the towns of land-use powers and said a landowner could build two high-rise towers beside the Hackensack, which would include 140 units of affordable housing.

While courts have never ordered towns to build housing, they have been generous in allowing developers to build more units than zoning permitted if they set aside some for the poor.

Cassella and others believe that strategy has proved disastrous, visiting large-scale development on places that aren't equipped to deal with it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never understood the affordable housing policy. It is just like foreign aid to Africa. It doesn't help anybody except few well-connected developers and politicians.
Just like in Manhattan: Taxpayers have paid billions (if not trillion) of dollars for public housing projects in the most expensive neighborhoods in the world. Similar apartments could have been built on less expensive areas with easy commuting to Manhattan. Now taxpayers are leaving those prime areas in Manhattan and heading for suburbs because they don't want to live next to public housing project. A lot of lost tax income. Anyway, easy votes for someone.

6/18/2006 09:10:00 AM  

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