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What's wrong with this picture?

There's an old saying that if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Our response to the Wayne Master Plan Revision.

 

These multiple low income and high density projects will only be the first of many and will destroy Wayne as we know it

This is the biggest development thrust in 25 years, going back to the era of development under the administration of former Mayor Lou Messercola. (for more on Messercola: http://www.leagle.com/decision/19922094789FSupp1305_11871

The Mayor has stated that he has developers ready to start on the properties to be rezoned. Information given provided by the administration relative to the proposed Master Plan Amendments and zoning changes is that 10 percent of all of the initial high density housing projects will be low income housing. This means that low income housing will be in the backyards of the Oak Hill neighborhood and the Packanack Lake community, as well as the Pines Lake and Lionshead Lake communities and these will just be the first of many.

Much More High Density Housing Than  Is Being Revealed

Currently, the proposed state standard for high density residential development requires that at least 20 percent of the housing be made available for low income residents. This means that Wayne’s administration's proposed high density housing scheme is already deficient in satisfying the low income housing requirement and would result in developers being able to force Wayne to approve more low income and high density housing. Wayne has only 3% of its property as commercial properties and the proposal removes a sizable portion of what is already a scarce resource that once converted to residential is lost for commercial purposes permanently.

To restate the above, the result of the proposed mixed use zoning, using  experience with the courts and the State Agencies involved is a guide, will be that more high density housing projects will be required throughout Wayne to meet the balance of the low income housing obligations that are triggered by the proposed high density projects. “Developers must agree to build a fixed percentage of affordable units---usually 20 percent---of the total constructed on the site, to market to low and moderate income households and to maintain affordability for 30 years.” (NJ Strategic Solutions LLC) Yet the proposed revision to the master plan only contains 10% creating a deficit which will have to be built later. This means that the deficit created will rise considerably higher than the aforementioned 10% as a result of the mixed use nature of the proposal.

Up to 12000 Additional Housing Units Could Be Headed for Wayne

At this point in time, no one is sure what the next low income housing requirements will be from the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) but the courts have once again intervened and it is just a matter of time until they hand down their decision Governor Christie has kept COAH in a state of flux for the past 3 1/2 years. We do know that in the last set of rules that COAH issued at the start of the Corzine administration would have required Wayne to allow in excess of 2,000 low income housing units to be built which translates into 10,000 low income and high density units in total.

Should COAH come back with a similar requirement, or an even greater number, this would mean that Wayne would be subjected to allowing a total of in excess of 12,000 housing units; virtually doubling Wayne's entire population. The figure of 12,000 is derived at by using the formula that developers follow to balance low income units versus the units sold at market rate prices.

Blowing up Wayne’s Legal Defense Against “insane” Housing Requirements

Up to now, Wayne had a strong defense to block COAH and developers from forcing Wayne to accept these insane housing "requirements". There are very few residentially zoned tracts of land left in Wayne that could ever support such development. Only 3 percent of the total land mass in Wayne is zoned commercial. Wayne needs to maintain a hard line to protect our limited commercially zoned property, and in fact needs more commercial property not less.

In fact, the owners of two commercial properties, the GAF/ISP property off of Alps Road and the Rockledge Garden Center property on Hamburg Turnpike are suing Wayne pursuant to the "old" third round COAH rules. The lawsuits, which the proposed zone changes and increased low income obligation would most assuredly strengthen,  state that the property owners are seeking to build 500 units and 400 units of housing, respectively, each of which would include a portion of low income housing totaling around 20% of the units.

One of Wayne's stronger defenses to these to these lawsuits has been the fact that, up to now, Wayne took a hard line on protecting our commercially zoned property and not converting it ot residential use. The proposed zoning change would undo that policy and allow the developers to question why some developers were granted zoning changes and not others..
Should the Wayne Planning Board ultimately pass the proposed Master Plan changes and the Mayor and Council ever begin to re-zone commercial properties for high density housing, we would face great exposure not only for low income and high density housing on the GAF/ISP and Rockledge Garden Center properties, but all commercial properties throughout Wayne.

                            
The Fallacy That We Will Never Get Business Development in Wayne

Think about the impact of the Mayor's recent statement that we can't get a commercial developer to redevelop the property fronting on Route 23, formerly occupied State Farm and that a high density housing project is our "only option". We'll if that were "true", then logically every single commercial property in town could be subject to a re-zoning for residential purposes for the same reason whenever they became vacant.

Finally, no one knows what the new low income requirements will be, not the Mayor, not the council, not the planning board and not the town planner. What we do know is that Wayne will have a sizable additional obligation if this zone change is approved and the new rules are even remotely similar to the old ones. This is bad proposal made worse by the fact that we don’t know what the future low income and high density housing rules will be. In the recent past town have been forced, by the courts, to build low income and high density housing when developers sued, under what is called a builders remedy suit, and the town had an outstanding obligation to provide more housing.( Supreme Court Reaffirms Availability of Builder's Remedy -The Real Estate Finance Journal)

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