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Hunterdon County Commissioners alarmed by New Jersey Legislature’s rushed affordable housing legislation

“Any Bills Passed Must Protect Residential Wells, Clean Water, and Not Overwhelm Local Infrastructure”

HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – Hunterdon County Commissioner Zach Rich, who also serves as the liaison to the County Planning and Land Use Department, recently addressed some shared concerns about recent efforts by the New Jersey Legislature to overhaul the state’s affordable housing laws.

“While access to affordable housing is a timely subject, it’s just as important that we get this process right and many local municipal officials and environmental groups are concerned about the rushed process in Trenton,” Rich said.

Legislative counsel for the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, Bill Caruso was noted late last year and voiced his concerns when the initial legislation was introduced, “Transportation infrastructure, energy infrastructure, water, and sewer – these are paramount concerns. These don’t just fall out of the sky as Christmas miracles. These are real world concerns that local governments have to deal with. We don’t make them up.”

The environmental concerns of rural municipalities like those in Hunterdon County include freshwater wetlands, preservation of natural stream buffers, no-built flood prone areas, wooded hillsides and steep slopes and the inability to control stormwater runoff.

Many Hunterdon County municipalities lack public sewer and water facilities and are concerned about buildout mandates. Similarly, numerous other towns with sanitary sewer systems are near capacity.

“It is unacceptable for any affordable housing legislation to not observe and respect efforts to protect water quality, open space, and legitimate concerns of small municipalities that lack the necessary infrastructure to support major buildout based upon arbitrary affordable housing numbers,” Commissioner Director Jeff Kuhl said.

Both Commissioners emphasized the importance of elected leaders in Trenton understanding what their policy decisions mean for local government leaders and residents alike.

The Board plans to bring forth a resolution at the next meeting scheduled for March 19th, to call upon legislators from the 15th, 16th, and 23rd Districts that represent Hunterdon County to address water quality and true buildout capacity as part of any final piece of legislation.

“Locally, I have heard directly from our planning staff and municipal officials who are rightfully concerned that Senate Bill No. 50, introduced by Senator Troy Singelton does not adequately address issues of water quality, especially for municipalities that are primarily served by well and septic systems like many of our homes here in Hunterdon County,” Rich said.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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