Category Archives: RCAs

M’town hosted COAH press conference: VIDEOS

Middletown Township hosted a press conference centering around the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and the implications of recent legislation eliminating Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs).

The following are videos taken during the press conference, which was attended by Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill and Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, as well as other elected officials from neighboring municipalities (Cliff Hoffman from Wall and Fred Rast from Atlantic Highlands).

Jeffrey R. Surenian also attended. Surenian is a lawyer who has dedicated his time to assisting several municipalities in the battle/complications regarding COAH.

Video One — “[Affordable housing now] built in the borders . . . There is a problem with that.”

Scharfenberger talks about the numbers and the impact of COAH.

Video Two — “Units”

“It would devastate us . . . change the quality of life forever,” Scharfenberger says of having to build more affordable housing in Middletown. The mayor also says once this happens, “you can’t go back.”

Video Three — “Cost of units = $18 billion dollars”

The mayor discusses how the taxpayers would wind up subsidizing the effects of the new legislation. Scharfenberger also talks about certain groups who are in favor of such legislation, namely the builders and the New Jersey Regional Coalition.

Video FourA continuation of the above video

Video Four will be up soon!

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Filed under Bill A500, COAH, Fred Rast, Jeffrey R. Surenian, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, Middletown, RCAs

RCAs ‘DOA’

Isn’t it interesting to see what your legislators do all day?

It’s funny, the whole “elected officals” thing.

They come to Trenton every so often, sit in a big room and claim to have the state’s best interests at heart.

Meanwhile, the people – also the reason officials are even elected in the first place – sit above in the public gallery, forcibly silent and desperately hopeful for change.

A huge change came today for the entire state of New Jersey. What some are calling the biggest grassroots movement in affordable housing, Bill A500, was passed in the Senate.

Today I watched as senators spoke during session in an effort to voice concerns over many things. Some legitimate. Others . . . I swear some people just speak to hear an echo somewhere in Jabib.

It reminded me of a Middletown Township meeting, actually. Bright lights, many distractions, smoke screens . . . What was on the agenda, again?

But, either way, something crazy happened today in the Garden State. Several crazy things, actually, but the abolishment of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs) affects Middletown severely.

I spoke to Middletown’s own, Senator Joseph Kyrillos, prior to the session. He had many interesting things to say regarding the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and RCAs, particularly their use in Middletown.

Check out this week’s issue of The Courier for exclusive coverage of the senator, as well as the passage of Bill A500.

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Filed under COAH, Joseph Kyrillos, Middletown, RCAs

Baroni: ‘On both knees to COAH’

During Bill A500’s hearing today in the Senate, there was much “back and forth” regarding the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs) from senator to senator.

One of the bill’s sponsors in the Senate, Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, often had to defend what many deemed an “imperfect” bill.

Sen. Bill Baroni, R-Mercer, took the floor and asked several questions regarding COAH – a “disaster” of a program – and how the bill would affect the state of New Jersey.

One of Baroni’s questions involved the amount of affordable housing that the bill would create and what a town would do if it literally could no longer “fit” its obligation, i.e. “built out.”

Lesniak had answered this question to an extent prior to Baroni’s series of questions. In fact, I believe Baroni had asked the same question, in so many other words.

You can certainly hear both senators’ frustration during this video, Lesniak defending his own words and Baroni voicing municipalities’ toil when it comes to “proving” compliance under a new bill.

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Filed under Bill A500, Bill Baroni, COAH, N.J. Senate, Raymond Lesniak, RCAs

No more RCAs for New Jersey

The New Jersey State Senate just passed Bill A500 that abolishes the use of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs) regarding a municipality’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) obligation.

The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 21 Yea, 16 Nay. It now ventures to Gov. Jon Corzine’s desk. Hallway whispers speak of the Governor already agreeing to sign the bill, were it to reach his desk.

Time for Corzine to made good on his word.

The video below was taken during the bill’s voting session in Trenton. Check back shortly for more coverage of the bill’s passage.

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Filed under Bill A500, COAH, New Jersey, RCAs, State Senate

Big vote tomorrow in Trenton?

The New Jersey State Senate will discuss/vote on Bill A500 tomorrow during its session in Trenton.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, would ultimately abolish a town’s use of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs), among other things.

RCAs, from what I’ve gathered, are often used by a town to “pass along” its obligation assigned by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).

Middletown is a major user of RCAs, even known as the state’s number-one “abuser” of the tool, according to several sources I’ve spoken to. (Visit The Courier online to read recent coverage regarding Bill A500 and Middletown’s use of RCAs.)

It’s a touchy subject in Monmouth County, especially when considering the situation that recently surfaced regarding a Builder’s Remedy lawsuit between Middletown and Lakewood.

I have been in touch with M’town Public Info Officer Cindy Herrschaft to make an appointment with Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, the township’s former COAH liaison.

There are several things I want to discuss with him. Hopefully I can report some solid numbers at a later date, given I’m granted time with the administrator.

For now, we wait to hear from Trenton. The situation could change drastically within the next 24 hours. Needless to say, the bill’s effects would be felt statewide.

Check back for possible live updates during tomorrow’s Senate session.

To view the Senate agenda for tomorrow, click the headline.

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Filed under Anthony Mercantante, Bill A500, Cindy Herrschaft, COAH, Joseph Roberts, Middletown, N.J. Senate, RCAs

Delayed budget? Political bedlam? Check a box

Last night was the shortest Middletown meeting I have ever attended – Just about an hour.

There were many items of interest (at least to me) on the agenda, including the 2nd public hearing on the 2008 municipal budget.

It was actually disappointing to see that no one had any additional budget comments, both public and committee and included.

It was also disappointing to hear the committee speak so unsettlingly of COAH, the Council On Affordable Housing.

Bill A500 passed in the New Jersey Assembly yesterday. The bill, sponsored by Speaker Joseph Roberts, would abolish Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs), among other things.

The committee passed some absurd resolution “urging that the governor and state legislators oppose affordable housing bills A500 and S1783 as creating further property taxes.”

I’ve read a copy of the bill several times and attended the assembly session during which the bill was passed. The notion that property taxes are going to increase is entirely a Republican-backed atrocity.

Several legislators – from both parties – commented on the bill. It’s so clear to me why New Jersey politics is the way it is. Also why Middletown likes to put on a circus as its town meeting rather than actually get anything done.

I was deeply disappointed in ALL Middletown officials last night for not taking a stand. It’s no secret Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger and Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill oppose the housing act all together. Last night, Committeeman Sean Byrnes expressed displeasure about a builder’s remedy suit Middletown had/is having with Lakewood, regarding RCAs.

The entire situation is really just a mess. And the Middletown Committee will never accomplish anything with COAH because no one can agree.

Rather, the Republicans will plow over the Democrats because the D’s haven’t taken a strong stand on the issue. If they have, no one knows about it, considering they haven’t spoken up on it during recent public meetings – when the issue is coming to a head statewide.

I approached Committeeman Patrick Short after the meeting and asked him how he felt about the resolution, considering the bill really states NOTHING about increasing property taxes. (Why would anyone pass a bill like that during an economic recession? Just curious).

You know what he said to me? He said he would rather not comment until the bill has been discussed in the State Senate.

Short also asked me if I was enjoying my summer.

Well, actually, Mr. Short, NO. I’m not. I don’t like attending meetings during which political mayhem runs rampant and no one gets anything done; meanwhile, committee members are staring up at the ceiling probably wondering what they’re going to eat when they get home. (Just take one guess.)

It’s not fun to see so much hard work done at the state level go unrecognized because the committee’s minority is afraid of being bullied around by the political majority. I also find it ironic that the committee can magically pass such an absurd resolution where it took . . . Hmm, maybe a month or more? . . . to even agree on the wording of a resolution regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J.

The resolution really has no political business even being considered. Disgraceful. READ THE BILL, do your RESEARCH. Thousands of other elected officials do it. I don’t understand why Middletown absolutely refuses to face FACTS.

I know I’m young, and I know I’m always wrong. But I was taught that nothing gets done when you sit back, shut your mouth and let others do the talking for you.

After sitting through that “session” last night, I would assume that the entire committee is against Bill A500 and that they really don’t have much to say about the 2008 budget, which will be adopted in almost JULY.

Actions speak louder than words. It’s really a shame.

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Filed under 2008 Municipal Budget, Bill A500, COAH, Committee Meeting, FEMA, Middletown, RCAs