On Tuesday, November 20, the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council will vote on whether to approve a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) agreement between the township and the developer of the District at 1515 project, which consists of 441 apartment units and 112,000 sq. ft. of retail space. This PILOT DEAL is to compensate for an alleged “constitutional obligation”? Well then if that is in fact the case then 100% affordable should be the objective, along with State subsidies to enforce their own ruling. The construction of more luxury apartments or retail space is completely unneeded in order to accomplish this obligation. This is part of the Christie legacy which failed to address a viable solution to the exploitation of citizens do to market forces driven by profit motives rather than the actual organic needs of society.
The following from “Housing Opportunity Task Force Findings & Recommendations”, March 19, 2010. Which is still the core of the dilemma created by the original case, Mount Laurel being more about discrimination and gentrification and its demise of basic rights of citizens.
In Mount Laurel I, this Court held that a zoning ordinance that contravened the general welfare was unconstitutional. We pointed out that a developing municipality violated that constitutional mandate by excluding housing for lower income people; that it would satisfy that constitutional obligation by affirmatively affording a realistic opportunity for the construction of its fair share of the present and prospective regional need for low and moderate income housing. This is the core of the Mount Laurel doctrine. Although the Court set forth important guidelines for implementing the doctrine, their application to particular cases was complex, and the resolution of many questions left uncertain. Was it a “developing” municipality? What was the “region,” and how was it to be determined? How was the “fair share” to be calculated within that region? Precisely what must that municipality to do to “affirmatively afford” an opportunity for the construction of lower income housing? Other questions were similarly troublesome.
Two basic approaches must be deciphered. 1. Immediate, or short-term. Is their really an absolute need for this additional unneeded elements of the proposed development, more market or luxury apartments,and retail? does not Parsippany already have enough housing options both rented and vacant already satisfying needs? Does not Parsippany already have enough retail malls? 2. Comprehensive, or long term impacts that will occur; for example traffic, water, trash and air pollution. The mere fact that a for-profit corporate developer of perhaps unknown actual already existing financial resources is trying to take advance of local officials perhaps not capable of determining all factors, both local and regional and all sources including nonprofit housing available. What is the need for more new construction? It has not been determined, but thrown to the dogs due to Governor Christie’s lack of leadership. Comprehensive would also included strategic plan envisioning what long term future it holds; for example housing in close proximity to travel options, transit and work location to decrease the sprawl phenomena rather than increase it. We must also question, why is Parsippany not directly dealing with the Fair Share Housing Center ; why are we circumventing this agency as a primary partner?
Developers have been using affordable housing in other ways, like intimidating and threatening lawsuits; waterview still the best example. If local officials really knew the law and policies of good land use they should have known waterview could never have fallen to COAH type housing. Local officials proved they could not defend their own community from false threats because they were not versed in policies and options available to invoke.
The other ploy used in conjunction with undefined obligations is jobs; short term jobs in construction and substandard jobs of dubious employment possibilities.
The bottom line is without government subsidies to meet the obligation of necessity for ‘affordable living space’ private corporate forces will continue to dominate through their power of lawsuits and PILOT deals while the very agency of government itself, the Constitutional Source of the obligation plays little or no role in mandating low income housing to citizens that are left out in favor of capital rather than real human needs. Parsippany and all of New Jersey needs a plan and an economy that serves the people, not the people to serve the economy. An economy that already favors the advantaged. The giant traffic jam of November 15 due to the snowstorm was more due to the sprawl and its replication will and does occur over and over again all due to poor planning and developers fantasies as they walk away from the havoc they inflict on the general welfare of man and nature.
NO PILOT AGREEMENT or mortgage and sales tax exemptions for corporations that can easily afford to pay their fair share of the tax burden. Giving away our tax base only produces less revenue, which in turn means higher taxes for all property owners.