Letter: Byrnes & Short; Working For Solutions While Republicans Ignored Or Litigated COAH Obligations

I do not understand how the Middletown Republicans can continue to blame Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short for the township’s affordable housing obligations. The Fair Housing Act and the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) mandates were initiated when Republican Gov. Thomas Kean was in office. They are a matter of state law, not township preference.

It was also a Republican-majority on the Township Committee that tried to ignore or litigate its COAH obligations for years, only to find out that it would have to scramble to build affordable housing on the Avaya and Town Center sites to meet its affordable housing obligations.

By deciding to fight the law, we missed a golden opportunity to enter into regional contribution agreements (RCAs) with neighboring towns. In one such opportunity, Middletown gave up the chance to purchase 80 units of affordable housing from Red Bank by not allocating the money required to satisfy the agreement. Red Bank nullified the agreement and chose to partner with the Township of Manalapan instead. After litigation attempts failed, Middletown tried to rekindle a deal with Red Bank, but it was too late. Middletown and its Republican committee were left with the obligation to build 75 affordable housing units at the Avaya site. The Avaya obligation is causing much controversy in Lincroft today, which is unfortunate because it could have all been avoided if the township had gone through with the Red Bank deal in the first place.

Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short are not shirking responsibility and leaving our township’s fate to costly litigation, like their predecessors did. They have consistently voted in favor of challenging the method COAH uses to determine affordable housing obligations. What Byrnes and Short have not supported are township resolutions that are purely political and do not offer solutions to Middletown’s housing challenges. Republican committee members got our township into this COAH confusion, yet they are more concerned about pointing fingers than finding a way ahead. Byrnes and Short are working for real solutions and that is why I will be voting for them in November.

Don Watson

New Monmouth

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Filed under COAH, Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Republicans

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