MAYOR VALLONE'S LETTER TO RESIDENTS
Dear Neighbors and Friends:
As we move through spring into summer, I want to update you on events and issues here in Far Hills as I have done quarterly for the last nine years as your Mayor. There is much to cover so let’s get right to it.
Working with the Department of Transportation over the last year I and the Borough Council have been successful in obtaining a commitment from DOT to do the much needed paving and restoration of Route 202. This will occur later this summer. Stay tuned. I want to thank Councilman Surks for his assistance in this matter.
We are also working with our neighbors in Bernards Township on a grant to pave an additional section of Douglas Road as well, and that is targeted for summer 2019.
Our Police Committee, (Council President Karner and Councilman Carty) continue their excellent work with Police Chief Michael DeCarolis in keeping Far Hills’ residents safe. In May, we welcomed a new officer, Officer Zavala to our Police Department and through excellent fiscal management we have been able to provide our Police with the latest in communication and equipment necessary to keep them on the cutting edge so that our Police Department is equipped with all they need to maintain and ensure the safety of our residents.
As to fiscal management, our 2019 Budget reflects a minimal 1.6% increase in taxes and maintains Far Hills as having one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the State of NJ while providing and upgrading the essential services for our residents. We continue to build fiscal reserves and as per our independent auditors, Far Hills is an excellent example of fiscal management and integrity, something I and the Borough Council are very proud of.
The joint Memorial Day Parade with Bedminster will start at 10 am on Monday, May 27th, please plan to attend this important day in our Country’s history.
The VNA completed their Spring Sale and Far Hills is proud of our association as the VNA who continues to help improve the quality of life for our residents in need of medical support.
June 8th, the Morris Freewheelers will be bicycling through Far Hills from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm, and June 9th, will see the Miles for Matheny from 11:30 am until 5:00 pm based out of our Fairgrounds, something for the entire family to enjoy. June 21-23, will see the Essex Horse Trials, a family event showcasing equestrian talent, a food court and an automobile show, please plan to attend this community event. You may also have noticed lovely plantings and pots around Far Hills, this is courtesy of a newly formed Garden Club which will further enhance the beauty of our Community.
I now want to address Affordable Housing. As most residents in Far Hills are aware, due to the many presentations and transparent discussion throughout all of 2018, I and the Borough Council having had looked at many, many possible options over several years, the Borough announced a Plan last year to address our Court mandated affordable housing requirement. This plan, which has been highlighted in the newspapers and discussed at almost every Council meeting, includes an Adult small group home operated by Matheny on Peapack Road; several rental apartments across from the Fairgrounds in existing buildings run by Mr. Bill Hotz and a planned community on a 40 acre site off of Route 202.
This plan, which has been sanctioned by the Court, and commended by the Court and local papers for its transparency and inclusion of all of Far Hills, is beneficial to Far Hills in many ways. This plan satisfies all our COAH obligations, it will not require the Borough to borrow millions of dollars as do other plans, such as the RPM plan or other self-build plans. In fact, we do not have to borrow any money, and after recent discussions have confirmed that the Pulte development off Route 202 will be DEED RESTRICTED Age Restricted, this greatly reduces the number of school children to be educated and makes a very good plan an excellent one. This plan is INCOME POSITIVE to the Borough, it is located on a 40 acre tract most will be deeded a sanctuary prohibiting any further development and will be well landscaped and set well back from the road and will be similar in nature to the Polo Club, which has been and is a wonderful addition to Far Hills.
The Pulte community will have a higher price point and so will not be competitive to the Polo Club. We will have ample tax income to hire any additional Fire or Police services that maybe needed AND WILL NOT AFFECT YOUR TAXES.
Since January 2019, a small group of residents on Lake Road called Preserve Far Hills with the PRINCIPLES comprised of Amy Pressler, George Mellendick and Frank Semcer, who along with several other residents have done everything they can to derail this Plan. In fact, they have hired a lawyer and are SUING Far Hills, costing you the taxpayer substantially to defend ourselves. They profess that they know what is best for Far Hills despite that one of the litigants has not been seen at a Council meeting in years and others vary rarely.
While they profess to be in favor of Affordable Housing, they do not want it across from Lake Road and frequently suggest that the Affordable Housing should be placed on the Fairgrounds, in the Village or by the TRACKS; how demeaning.
Simply not in my backyard, hardly the big picture one needs to serve ALL the residents of our Borough.
They have insisted that the Borough “self funds” for our obligation despite the fact that I and the Council have looked at this option years ago and are again looking at it despite that it is not a financially feasible.
The fact remains that this option will cost Far Hills many millions of dollars, it will require us to bond for 20 plus years, will adversely affect our credit, will wipe out our reserves, will give us an affordable housing complex that produces little or NO tax ratables for the Borough and WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES dramatically.
They have also questioned an $800,000 donation to be made to the Borough for restoration of our Fairgrounds and streetscape improvements downtown. This offering by the land owner was offered AFTER the Councils’ decision to go with the Route 202 Pulte Plan, not BECAUSE of it. It had no bearing on our decision. Our view was that this would benefit EVERYONE, those who play baseball on the field, those who play soccer and our residents who simply want to walk their dog on a beautiful summer evening and this was thoroughly explained by our Borough Attorney, Mr. Sordillo at the May 13th Council meeting.
In short, I and the hard working and very dedicated members of your Borough Council, whom you have put your trust in, will only do what is in the best interest of this wonderful Borough we call home. Remember we all live here and are proud of this beautiful Borough we call home.
We have taken into account all of the options and have made a decision that this is in the best interest of ALL OF OUR RESIDENTS, for all of Far Hills NOT just a few.
I thank you for your continued support and ask you to listen to the facts, not the fiction.
Paul J. Vallone, MD