November 5, 2017
Tuesday’s Election Choices - Remember to Think Global, but Act Local
Readington has 3 candidates for 2 seats on the Township Committee. All three have relevant experience and have demonstrated their willingness to step up and serve their community in many capacities. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to read the candidates’ responses side by side to our questions on issues confronting the town currently.
During the three year term, it is likely that the appeal to Judge Armstrong’s decision will be settled, the Solbergs will seek Federal money to expand, and the Township Committee will need to respond. Affordable housing and growth in Readington will be a major issue. So choose carefully.
Mr. Harwick is a relative newcomer to Readington, but got involved right from the beginning and brings perspectives from relevant roles in Bridgewater Twp. Mr. Albanese and Mr. Heller are long-term residents with children that have attended Readington schools and are long-term volunteers within our Township.
All three candidates refer to possible negotiations on the Airport; we recognize that candidates for office look for something optimistic and proactive to say. When it comes down to it, though, we see no change in the hardened positions that have led to negotiation failures in the past. The Solbergs have been unwilling to accept any enforceable, binding restrictions on their expansion plans. In their responses to our survey, all candidates were interested reviewing all options.
At the 38:30 minute mark in a video on his facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HarwickForReadington2017/videos/135328463722088/) Mr. Harwick starts speaking about the airport issue. He demonstrates a lack of knowledge of past events and of the expansion process. He states that he would wait until he saw an airport application at the Planning Board before he would respond. In the 1990’s the airport did develop an expansionary airport master plan, did an environmental study, and sought government funding without going toReadington’s Planning Board. By the time that the airport would have been required to submit a Planning Board application, it would have been too late. (Fortunately, our Township Committee started intervening at the master plan stage.) Moreover, Federal or State agencies can easily overrule any action by the local Planning Board. Given his comments on this subject, we cannot endorse Mr Harwick.
All three candidates recognize the looming specter of Affordable Housing mandates as well as the importance of Readington being proactive in providing these units and avoiding Builders’ Remedy lawsuits. We do find it incongruous for Mr. Harwick to take issue with the transparency of the Nelson Street process when, as a member of the Planning Board, he was in a position to advocate for different communication strategies.
CFR agrees with the candidates that any PILOT payments need to be structured in such a way that the true costs of services brought by any affordable housing units are covered and allocated proportionately to school and other budgets. CFR prefers that the full amount (not proportional) of school taxes would be paid to the schools.
Prior to this campaign, Mr. Harwick’s goals for Readington seemed very similar to ours. However, his video demonstrates that he has moved in a very different direction, and no longer appears aligned with our positions. He is now calling for much more development, not necessarily tied to Affordable Housing compliance. He wants to repurpose private property the town doesn’t control, e.g. the Merck property. The State is working with Merck to find a buyer and they don’t want Township interference. The township has already made changes to the zoning to allow for flexibility in the uses of that property. His knowledge of the airport issue has gaping holes. For these reasons, we find that John Albanese and Jonathan Heller are much better choices.