TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblymen Jay Webber and Robert Auth are warning about the dangers of mandating high-density housing in communities facing flood risks from over development and are dependent on well water.
The issue came up as the Assembly Appropriations Committee held a hearing Thursday night on a bill to overhaul New Jersey’s affordable housing system. The measure is scheduled for a vote on the Assembly floor Monday.
“This affordable housing ploy doesn’t take into consideration the majority of suburban communities in the state,” said Auth (R-Bergen). “Mandated development without the funding to cover the costs is an unfunded mandate by the state. The costs associated with this development are taxes imposed without any legislative oversight.”
Auth said towns like Westwood, Washington Twp., River Vale and Old Tappan are currently overwhelmed with flooding as a result of overdevelopment.
East Hanover Mayor Joe Pannullo told the committee that court-mandated high-density housing along River Road in his town has caused damaging flooding three times in the last year-and-a-half where flooding had never been a problem before.
“Communities all over the state have been experiencing the same problems,” said Webber (R-Morris). “Court-ordered high-density housing causes many problems, such as costs for taxpayers, stress on schools and municipal services, and problems with the environment and flooding. The legislature should reject this bill and go in a completely different direction.”
Auth also worries that towns that get their water from wells and aquafers might not be able to handle the extra demand from overdevelopment. He said Mahwah, Park Ridge and Oakland, all of which are in Bergen County, are dependent on well water.
“This bill pushes unrealistic goals and timetables,” said Auth. “These towns are already at capacity or over capacity with water demands and pay out of the nose to meet needs in the summer. Property taxes will skyrocket as a result, and it’s because of careless legislating.”