In a recent article in the Herald, ordered by Gandy for Committee, the all Republican Township Committee attempted to address the fact that the Township has put taxpayers at risk for affordable-housing related lawsuits. Unfortunately, they presented misleading accusations to cover up the fact that the Township is now in this predicament.
Elected officials misrepresenting the facts is nothing new, however, the fact that the Gandy for Committee ( Chaired by Mayor Donohue) tried to point the finger on this debacle on myself and the Democratic candidate for Township Committee speaks volumes about just how jeopardizing the Township’s Committee’s mishandling of the affordable housing related court orders must be for our township.
In this article it said, “… The truth should matter.” I totally agree with that statement and that is why I feel it is important that the citizens of Middle get the whole story. Following are facts:
• Neither I, nor any members of the Quanette for Middle Committee, had anything to do with actions being brought against the Township by FSHC (Fair Share Housing Center). Court Documents (see Superior Court Cape May County Docket No. CPM-l-27 19) clearly point out dates that FSHC had petitioned the Courts to force the Township to remove immunity because of the administration’s lack of attention to the Court orders issued more than two years ago. Documents clearly show FSHC’s challenge to the Township started way before Quanette even announced her candidacy for Township Committee.
• The article did tell the truth that losing this immunity could force the Township’s taxpayers to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees. This is a result of the current administration’s failure to develop and submit a court ordered plan in a timely manner. The fact that they hired a planner in March of 2021 to put forth a plan for orders given two years ago demonstrates that their “good faith negotiations” were intended to kick this can down the road, or that it was a total lack of priority to find solutions and develop a viable affordable housing plan.
• From 2009 through 2012, I volunteered hundreds of hours to chair a volunteer committee comprised of citizens of diverse community and professional back grounds to understand and outline a plan regarding affordable housing. An acceptable plan was established and served as the blueprint that made it possible to build the current affordable housing units.
• I agree with the assessment that affordable housing was a complicated mess. However, it was not a mess because of what the prior administrations did to deal with the problem. It was a mess because of the ever-changing demands, rules and mandates made upon all townships by the Council for Affordable Housing (COAH). COAH mandates were so complicated that the Supreme Court declared it “moribund “ in 2015 and the court established a judicial process to make certain Township plans satisfy affordable housings obligations .
• It is disturbing to be publicly falsely accused of disseminating misinformation and to be blamed for potential costly litigation. Until I read a recent news articles, I had no idea there was a problem with affordable housing in the Township. Since I had played a critical role during the first round of this issue, I understandably became curious. It was not my intent to be political but rather to attain the most updated information. I went to Township Committee meetings and asked a couple of questions to find out what was happening. I never disseminated any information, only asked questions. The Gandy for Committee article enticed me to dig deeper. After reviewing Court documents, I can easily understand why Mayor Donohue’s committee would not want the whole truth to get out. Court documents show temporary immunity from exclusionary zoning lawsuits was granted to the current administration in February 2019, and the court extended that several times, however the latest extension ending on November 2, 2020. The fact that this current administration allowed that immunity to expire is of great concern. It is Township Committee’s lack of action, not my questions at a Township Committee meeting that has placed this Township in jeopardy.
I am deeply disappointed that Mayor Donohue, who has publicly thanked me for mentoring him and for stepping up many times to help our Township, would allow Gandy for Committee to initiate an article that was clearly meant to mislead the public, defame me personally, affix inaccurate labels on the Quanette for Middle Committee, and present a narrative which differs from the facts about a serious issue facing this Township.
I had removed myself from politics back in 2012. I have re-entered the political arena to lend a hand to my good friend, Quanette Vasser-McNeal, who I have also mentored. I have witnessed first-hand her hard work ethic, compassion for others, vision for doing what’s right, and a drive to overcome adversity to achieve new possibilities. The fact that Quanette is stepping up and dedicating herself to serving all citizens of Middle in a way that will provide understanding of the diverse needs, talents and voices within our community, promote polices that build greater economic opportunities, and work to protect the rights and safety of all our citizens, led me to extend a helping hand to get Quanette a seat at the leadership table for our Township. The Gandy for Committee‘s baseless attacks that were clearly meant to mislead, affix labels and stir up political discord does us all a great disservice. We need someone like Quanette on Township Committee to help him and the Committee make better choices for all citizens of Middle.
Ordered and paid for by Bob Noel, citizen of Middle Township.