A call for effective planning and greater fiscal discipline


To the editor:
Recent actions by the Hopewell Township Committee undercut the Master Plan and the Wastewater Management Plan, two of the most important tools we have to shape future growth in Hopewell Township.
   Three committee decisions — to allow sewer connection for a Route 31 shopping center development on July 17, to hire a consultant to build support for a high density Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) on Aug. 21, and to begin approval of another developer’s request for a sewer hookup on Sept. 4 — were undertaken even though neither the comprehensive Master Plan nor the Wastewater Management Plan are complete. Anyone who has been on Route 31 near Diverty Road recently can see how quickly a developer can go to work once decisions like this are made.
   The point of effective planning is to develop a framework that guides decision-making. By pursuing this piecemeal approach to development decisions, the committee exposes the township to the risks of unplanned growth. The Township Committee should establish a specific timeline for its advisory bodies to compete their work and should defer any other development decisions until the Master Plan and the Wastewater Management Plan have been reviewed by the public and adopted as township policy.
   In last week’s Campaign Corner, Eric Lehmann and my opponent commented on the large increase in Hopewell Township property taxes in the last year. I believe strongly that this is one of the key issues facing our township, and was troubled by the view that taxes and spending are "apples and oranges."
   Hopewell Township must balance its budget each year, so taxes and spending are two sides of the same coin. If the Township Committee makes decisions that increase the budget, our taxes will go up (unless we are lucky enough to receive increasingly rare state grants and aid.) That is why I have proposed that the Township Committee review the tax and budget impact of every measure it considers before voting. The committee needs to think twice before adopting measures that will inevitably hit taxpayers in the wallet.
   To avoid destroying the quality of life in Hopewell Township, the Township Committee will need to practice more effective planning and exercise greater fiscal discipline.
David Sandahl, candidate for Township Committee