Search Site
Menu
An update on the Franklin Township Housing Plan as of 2/9/06

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Affordable housing a big-bucks affair Franklin Twp. plan generates an outcry

BY JOE TYRRELL
Star-Ledger Staff

Franklin Twp. plan generates an outcry

Franklin Township’s affordable housing plan is like fashion: One day you are in, and the next day you are out.

Just like on “Fashion Avenue,” the Midtown New York stretch of Seventh Avenue, winning approval can be a big-bucks affair.

A majority of the all-Democratic council Wednesday night voted to send a plan they crafted to the state Council on Affordable Housing. The 5-1 vote came over the objections of Mayor Brian Levine, a Republican, and without the participation of council members Brian Regan, James Vassanella and Teresa Danile.

The outcome reflected the council majority’s decision to include major developers. It sparked an outcry from some residents because the builders also happen to be major Democratic contributors.

In fashioning the plan, the council overrode the usual local planning board process. First, the council intervened to approve Summerfields at Franklin, 900 units of age-restricted housing near Zarepath on the township’s western edge.

Then, before the board received the housing plan, the council dropped two properties, one off Lakeside Avenue, the other at Leona Street.

Finally, the council assured developer Jack Morris’ project off Bennetts Lane and Veronica Avenue a vital place in the plan. It will include a Home Depot and other stores.

Summerfields is being developed by a partnership between Anatol Hiller, builder of the even larger Canal Walk senior development just to the south, and members of the Wilf family, also among New Jersey’s leading developers.

In 2002-04, Hiller individually gave $35,000 to New Jersey Democrats, as well as corporate contributions. The Wilfs have given the Middlesex County party $24,000 since 1998.

Summerfields is the largest development in the plan, but has the least impact. Even with a projected 100 affordable units, it will cover only the additional need generated by its own 800 market-priced units.

The fast track for Bennetts/Veronica made up for the council’s failed 2004 effort to declare the neighborhood “blighted,” which would have allowed Morris to redevelop it then with a Home Depot.

According to Levine, at a private Jan. 27 meeting among council and board representatives and staffers, one point made was “there wouldn’t be any homes without the Home Depot.”

In recent years, Morris and his companies have contributed at least $275,000 to the Middlesex County Democratic organization. In October 2003, he and his frequent partner, developer Joseph Marino of Clifton, branched out, giving $64,500 to the Somerset County Democratic organization.

Although the figures are subject to change, the latest projections are Morris will build 664 total units, with 132 credited toward the township’s affordable housing obligation.

While the numbers have varied, Township Manager Ken Daly estimated Franklin’s affordable housing obligation at 617 units. The most recent figures suggest the plan would result in more than 2,000 total homes, plus the stores.

According to consultant David Roberts of Schoor DePalma, the Home Depot is a major attraction, not just of Morris’ proposal but of the entire plan. His projections of tax revenue from the stores, based on property assessments, indicate they would “balance out the costs of the housing,” whose residents require municipal services.

Roberts conceded the balance could be upset if commercial enterprises instead are taxed based on revenues. But he and council members also offered assurances the plan meets Franklin’s legal and moral obligations.

“I get very offended when I hear people saying we’re creating a ‘slum,’ or even a ‘ghetto,’ a word I haven’t heard in years,” said Councilwoman Wandra Ashley Williams. “We don’t have those places in Franklin and we’re not going to.”

“They’re people like you and me,” said Councilwoman Ellen Ritchie. “To qualify as moderate-income here, a family of four can earn almost $75,000.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for four-person families in New Jersey in 2004 was $73,973.

Our Attorneys

Recent Twitter Posts

  • New Jersey sets emergency water standards for new chemicals. https://t.co/trgaaLL1mD
    5 months ago
  • How will New Jersey manage stormwater as the climate changes and flooding increases? https://t.co/dhVLALyzZ2
    5 months ago
  • Unprecedented storms are slamming NJ – learn how to be the best advocate for your clients when the next flood hits.… https://t.co/TicH6iAjP0
    5 months ago
  • Trenton Water Works has removed 25 percent of lead pipes throughout its service area. https://t.co/KUvhMsJlvU
    5 months ago

Recent Blog Posts

Supreme Court concludes that attorney review period is not a requirement of absolute auction contracts

On June 9, 2022, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously decided that attorney review period is not a required contractual provision for a residential real estate sale by absolute auction.
Read More
Supreme Court concludes that attorney review period is not a requirement of absolute auction contracts

It Depends on the Language – The Non-Disparagement Clause

How enforceable is a non-disparagement clause in an agreement? As is always the case with any contract or agreement, it depends on the language. On May 31, 2022, the Appellate Division
Read More
It Depends on the Language – The Non-Disparagement Clause

DCA Tries Again to Use RSIS to Limit Municipal Stormwater Controls

By Michele Donato, Esq. and Stuart Lieberman, Esq. In the 1990’s, developers claimed that municipal residential development ordinances lacked uniformity, increased development costs, and caused uncertainty in the development process. In
Read More
DCA Tries Again to Use RSIS to Limit Municipal Stormwater Controls

Previous Property Manager Charged with Embezzling and Laundering Stolen Funds from Hamilton Park CO-OP.

Nicolas DePaola of Ewing New Jersey was indicted on twelve charges for embezzling and laundering stolen money from his prior client, Hamilton Park CO-OP. On April 1, 2022, a Mercer
Read More
Previous Property Manager Charged with Embezzling and Laundering Stolen Funds from Hamilton Park CO-OP.

In The Media

  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules

    NJ.com Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  • Dark Waters: How a Class Action Catapulted NJ to Forefront of 'Forever Chemicals' Battle

    NJ Law Journal Jan 09, 2020

    As property owners become increasingly aware of PFAS contamination, and as individuals exposed to PFAS learn of the health risks associated with exposure, liability will likely affect entire supply chains.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form