LETTER – Readington – We disagree with both their large-scale development agenda and with their misinformation regarding the Township’s financial strength.

Dear Editor,

We are running for Township Committee because we care tremendously about the future of Readington.  Our opponents also say that they care about the Township, but their vision for this Township is very different from ours.  In a recent email discussing a Supreme Court case about the Township’s handling of allocated but as yet unused sewer capacity, they say:

“Fortunately, …. the Supreme Court’s decision has removed the contrived control that slowed the creation of commercial ratables over the past 15 years that now, more than ever, are needed to pay off Readington’s huge debt.  The ONLY way out is to purge our municipal government of every elected and appointed official on the current governing body, and those they appointed to our boards and committees, who, collectively, are responsible for having placed us in this spiral toward municipal bankruptcy.”

We disagree with both their large-scale development agenda and with their misinformation regarding the Township’s financial strength.

First, Readington has a solid AA credit rating.  The Standard and Poors translation is, “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments”, not exactly a “spiral towards municipal bankruptcy”.  Another bit of misinformation that has been circulating is that our taxes will go up to pay the Solbergs’ legal fees.  This too is untrue.  Principal on the $22 million dollar bond the voters approved in 2006 has been partially paid down, and we have been earning interest on the money, which has been sitting in an account in Superior Court for nine years.  If the Township appeals the judge’s decision and we win, we will not have to pay the Solbergs’ legal fees at all.  If we do not appeal, the Solbergs don’t get the $22 million, and we will have more than enough money to pay their legal fees.  There is no crisis.

Second, look around you.  Do you like what you see?  Is it why you moved here?  Open space, larger lots, small rural lanes with few stop lights?   Less traffic?  That didn’t happen by accident.  It has taken decades of careful planning, establishing and defending ordinances, denying variances that would undermine our zoning, and careful handling of things like sewer allocations.  Are these the “contrived control that slowed the creation of commercial ratables”?  Absolutely.  But our opponents want to throw away all of that hard work in favor of large-scale development.

We are for revitalizing the Whitehouse business zone by reaching out to the small business owners, learning their business challenges and seeing how the Township can help.   We want to see our local businesses thrive instead of fail and be replaced by big box stores or car dealerships.  We would work with landowners to repurpose land in Whitehouse Station and add a balanced number of residential units so that young people can use the train to commute and patronize the local businesses within walking distance.

To help involve Township residents in the discussion, communications must be improved and increased between the Township Committee and the residents.  Township meetings should be recorded, webstreamed and published online. The website should include faster posting of draft agendas and minutes, more budget information, and information about upcoming, pending and completed applications in front of Township boards.  The Township Committee should also have a FaceBook presence to facilitate increased community communications.

We need experienced leadership that understands all of these issues; from the relationship between sewer capacity, zoning, and the way the Township develops, to municipal finance.  We ask for your support June 2nd in the Republican Primary.     Liz Duffy and Ben Smith