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MAYOR VALLONE ADDRESSES AFFORDABLE HOUSING AT MAY 6, 2019 PLANNING BOARD MEETING

Mayor Paul J. Vallone, MD addressed affordable housing at the May 6, 2019 Planning Board meeting.

Thank you Mr. Chairman, Members of the Board, Ladies and Gentlemen:

This evening, I want to address two COAH related issues. One being very good news relating to the Borough’s Court plan.

But before that I want to address the Preserve Far Hills.org group and website run by Amy Pressler, George Mellendick and Frank Semcer and the great amount of misinformation, fabrication of fact and inaccuracies that have been disseminated to the residents of Far Hills.

The attorney representing Preserve Far Hills filed a complaint and summons with the Superior Court of New Jersey on April 29, 2019 and as such the Borough is now in litigation with this group which may result in protracted and costly expense to our residents.

While some of the residents associated with the Preserve Far Hills Facebook page profess to want to work together, a posting which has called for the recall of myself as Mayor and the entire Borough Council; which by the way is the best group of Council members any municipality could ask for, is hardly a harmonious moment in Far Hills.

The Preserve Far Hills Facebook page has many postings which are mispresented much information pertaining to affordable housing in the Borough of Far Hills.

A post dated April 22 at 3:22 pm indicated that Mr. Joe Petrilli (actually Portelli), President of RPM (actually Vice President of Development for the RPM Development Corporation) stated that RPM has “a plan that calls for 50 affordable housing units which they will build, manage, own and maintain on land that the town already owns… and has reviewed the approximately 4 acres of land owned by the town adjacent to the Far Hills Fairgrounds…RPM believes this land is very suitable for the 50 unit development, BUT the town is not cooperating or discussing these options with RPM.”. This is blatantly false.

We have also heard from Mr. Charles Schwester, 410 Lake Road, Far Hills who stated that he knew Mr. Portelli or “Joseph” as he has said on the record and purportedly never said that he represented Far Hills when asking RPM Development to offer their services to Far Hills.

During a recent phone conversation with Mr. Portelli to discuss the statements posted on the Preserve Far Hills Facebook page and various statements made by residents at Borough Council and Planning Board meetings, he categorically denied ever saying the quote attributed to him on the April 22, 2019 Facebook post. He also denied knowing Mr. Schwester and only took his call because “he called me incessantly” and gave the impression that he (Mr. Schwester) was authorized to speak on behalf of Far Hills.  As requested by residents, our Borough Attorney, Mr. Joseph Sordillo and Planner, Mr. David Banisch met with Mr. Portelli of RPM Development on April 11, 2019 and during that meeting Mr. Portelli also related this sentiment.

During my conversation with Mr. Portelli, I also expressed that he should be prepared to discuss these issues should the Borough need to depose him regarding the gross misstatements made on the Preserve Far Hills Facebook page. This misinformation will become even more evident and immediately relayed to the public and if necessary, to the appropriate authorities.

I would also like to address the flyer sent to residents over the May 4, 2019 weekend and also posted on the Preserve Far Hills Facebook page illustrating a cost estimate comparison between the Borough’s Court approved plan on the Route 202 site and RPM Development Group 50 apartment unit plan.

To date, RPM Development has not provided our Borough professionals the final projected costs following the April 11, 2019 meeting.  So, I ask you, where did Preserve Far Hills obtain the grossly understated numbers as detailed in the mailer, which appear to be understated by many millions of dollars based on what we know so far from RPM Development? Again, another misrepresentation of the facts.

The flyer also misrepresents the cost estimate for the Borough’s plan. The cost estimate to the Borough of 2.5 million dollars for land acquisition is totally inaccurate and false. The Borough of Far Hills is not purchasing this property; it is being purchased by a third party and there will be NO cost to Borough for this land acquisition. The numbers projecting tax revenues are again misrepresented and are dramatically underestimated and self-serving to the “Did You Know” group, who apparently, do NOT know!

But now for some very good news. After much discussion with Pulte Homes that has taken place over the past several months, they have agreed to market the entire market rate development as AGE RESTRICTED. This makes a very good Borough plan an excellent one. This essentially reduces the child count to less than 10 and based upon the actual cost estimates, not the inaccurate estimates posted by Preserve Far Hills. The projected tax revenue to the Borough for this project is a positive 45+% and the Borough will not incur any additional debt for this development all while maintaining one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the state. The Pulte Home development addresses the Borough’s affordable housing obligation via an elegant well-constructed town home development similar in nature and size to the Polo Club. The Polo Club, which has been, and continues to be a wonderful addition to our community, and is in keeping with the image of Far Hills.

Let me remind you that the massive development referred to by Preserve Far Hills, is an approximate 2500 total unit development in the Hills and was a direct result of a builder’s remedy lawsuit which the Township of Bedminster lost.

Later this week, I will be addressing all of the misinformation and inaccurate statements posted on the Preserve Far Hills Facebook page and if determined necessary by the Borough Council, this misinformation will be forwarded to our attorneys, the courts and appropriate third parties. Through the Borough newsletter and website our residents will be provided with the most accurate and factual information as possible.

In short, the proposal submitted by Pulte Homes and their agreement to market the units as AGE RESTRICTED addresses the concerns with cost, education and traffic and makes an already great plan an excellent one for Far Hills.

Sincerely,

 Mayor Paul J. Vallone, MD