MANCHESTER – Mayor Robert Hudak weighed in recently on social media concerning the subject of mixed-use development in the community. He called for citizens to join a township committee to examine township codes and updating its master plan.
Mixed use properties are when more than one thing is being built on a property, for example a mix of retail and housing.
“A month ago, I had several residents contact me regarding the various proposed mixed use development projects throughout the town. As an over 12-year resident of Manchester, I share your concerns regarding the impacts, such as traffic and other quality of life concerns which come with developments of this nature. Unfortunately, a number of these development plans have been lingering around for many years prior to my becoming a councilman in 2019,” the mayor said.
He added that some of the development approvals pre-date him and some of these projects “were the result of builders’ remedy suits brought against the Township by these developers.”
Every town is required by state law to provide a certain amount of affordable housing. Developers will sometimes sue the township to force them to provide some affordable housing in their plan, making it larger than the town wants in order to meet that state mandate. This is known as a builders’ remedy lawsuit.
Mayor Hudak said he has fought to make necessary and allowable changes “to these development plans, such as restricting the bedroom count to no more than two bedrooms for the market rate units while also excluding basements from the units.”
“I have fought for more commercial projects as opposed to residential development. As a licensed land use planner, I fight with unscrupulous developers who try to shoehorn projects into unsuspecting towns,” Hudak said. He promised to “to fight for our quality of life and ensure that the existing charm of Manchester remains unchanged.”
The new mayor said he feels there “is a lot of misinformation being spread around town which is alluding to our residents that we can ‘stop the development,’ but unfortunately that is not possible. The court system in our state has been very clear on these issues, especially when it comes to developments that includes an affordable housing component.
“If the Township were to take action in order to stop such development projects, not only would the Township lose when litigation is brought on by our action, but we would also be forced to pay all the legal costs from both the developer’s and township’s side,” he added.
Hudak added that “this regrettably is a state mandate which I have consistently opposed but none the less is strongly supported by Governor (Phil) Murphy and the majority in the State Legislature while also being deemed a constitutional right by the State Supreme Court.”
The mayor said the township did have some means to reduce any quality-of-life impacts in Manchester regarding future development. Hudak is proposing the township take a close look at both the zoning code and the Township’s Master Plan.
“In my time on the Council, I successfully fought to purchase developable properties for open space. We have a committee of residents already established but I am looking for additional members who want to get involved in the shaping of these policies for the future,” he said.
He called for those seeking to join the committee to e-mail him at email@example.com. “Your ideas and help are what make this township great!”