EDITOR: Madison’s leaders are on the right path to create more affordable housing for working class families, like teachers, cops, restaurant workers and veterans. You know, neighbors.
It’s part of a decades-long battle across New Jersey because wealthy communities restricted working class families through zoning laws. Two landmark state Supreme Court decisions — known as the Mount Laurel Doctrine — declared municipalities are constitutionally obligated to allow affordable housing.
It’s also the neighborly thing to do.
Mayor Robert Conley (Democratic candidate for re-election) and the Borough Council just negotiated a nonbinding agreement, a key step among many, toward reaching a settlement. The plan commits to 40 new affordable housing units — up to half for veterans — on Ridgedale Avenue. “Affordable housing” means an income ceiling of $80,614 for a family of four.
Madison’s leaders are smart because they’re voluntarily seeking an agreement. This path ensures the borough — not developers and the courts — controls its development and its destiny.
Some communities aren’t so smart. While Madison allowed scores of affordable housing units across the borough over the past 40 years, Englewood Cliffs permitted none.
That borough took a “go-ahead-and-sue-me” attitude. So a developer did. It just won a Superior Court ruling that could permit “potentially hundreds of (new) affordable housing units” there, reported newjersey.com.
Madison leaders also need to find other affordable housing opportunities as development occurs. It would use “overlay zoning,” which could permit property owners to build more units than now permitted and to develop some units in non-residential zones.
I look forward to meeting our new neighbors.
JOHN F. HEENEHAN
Read this letter on the Madison Eagle