Doria bill is flawed

To the editor:
The quotation of my words used in the Dec. 23 edition of The Cranbury Press were taken from comments made by me on the proposed legislation known as the Doria bill. They were taken out of context from comments on several condominium practices that were not adequately addressed by the proposed legislation.
   However, it should be noted, whichever side is correct in the Rossmoor issue, there can be no disagreement by either party that the voting package prepared by the general manager did not provide full and accurate simple English explanation of the voting issues. The owners, in fact, were directed to read 40-plus pages of present and past legal documents, bylaws, and deeds to understand the new unit boundaries (resulting in new financial responsibilities).
   It is unreasonable to expect senior citizens (70-plus years old, many of whom have probably never read a lease or legal document) to be individually responsible to have understood these documents. Who was protecting these helpless souls? Many of whom cannot afford the legal fees needed to conduct the review suggested by RCAI’s legal counsel. (Isn’t he also our legal counsel?)
   The Doria bill should provide protection for prospective or existing owners (especially senior citizens) by requiring full disclosure in plain English language in the voting package of any vote on bylaws or financial responsibility. We expect such disclosure by consumer protection, security and banking regulations, and we see such simple English disclosure in the voting booth on bond and other government issues. Why can’t we expect that protection as consumers and owners in a condominium agreement?
   It should be noted that at the mutual level the Rossmoor bylaws do permit the owners to petition for redress of grievance to the directors to modify any regulation deemed to be unacceptable to the majority.
   Another need in the Doria legislation is a uniform and reasonable definition of the unit boundaries. This varies greatly by association and custom and makes it difficult for senior consumer to understand condominium responsibilities.
   Yet as condominium owners we do not see such protection by regulation or agency to enforce such basic consumer protection issues. As seniors, we should individually contact our representatives and demand this basic protection, which we would be entitled under consumer or voting regulations.
John Vergano


Alternate plan has fatal flaws

To the editor:
This letter has been prepared in response to the letter authored by Harold Kane. Mr. Kane proposed construction of a three-story tower with a footprint of 120,000 square feet and a cumulative square footage of 360,000 square feet on the current athletic fields of the Monroe Township High School. There are three fatal defects in this proposal.
   First, the 360,000 square feet of the proposal would not adequately house the 2,700 students that are the ultimate High School population in the second decade of the 21 century.
   Second, simply focusing on the building size does not show the whole picture. Items such as parking areas, fire access lanes and storm water management basins must also be accounted for. These items require substantial acreage as well.
   Third, the proposal does not conform to the Board of education plan to covert the existing high school into an upper elementary school for the southwest quadrant of Monroe Township.
   When the state Departments of Education and Environmental Protection requirements are added to Mr. Kane’s proposal and consideration is given for a building addition, necessary to accommodate the projected enrollment of 2,700 students, it is quite clear that the area proposed by Mr. Kane is undersized.
   Furthermore, writing as a former president of the North Brunswick Board of Education, student safety, which is always paramount consideration of a Board of Education, would be greatly compromised attempting to build the proposed classroom tower on an already congested site. They would require at least 30 acres of land, and more likely 35 acres of land to properly house 2,700 students and manage storm water discharges.
   To carve out 30 to 35 acres of land from the 48-acre existing high school site would require demolition of the athletic fields, the existing high school, and the existing parking lots. Only the Richard P. Marasco Performing Art Center and the wetlands would remain the same. The construction of a 30 to 35 acre complex would require an additional referendum for the construction of a 1,200 student middle school.
   Mr. Kane should be complemented for his public spirit in advancing his "alternative" but it would have helped if he had discussed this subject matter with experts such as the Board of Education engineer.
Elizabeth Schneider


Bylaw vote confusing

To the editor:
As a resident of Rossmoor, I thank you for your article, "Rule change riles residents" in the Dec. 23 issue of your paper.
   In Rossmoor, a condo community for people over 55, the new bylaws that we unwittingly voted for turned responsibility and cost for the repair of all hidden pipes and wires over to the residents. Since our homes are now older, pipes that are within our cement slab floors and walls are beginning to leak and these repairs could cost thousands or tens of thousands. What is most upsetting about this is that the cost of repairing leaking pipes is uninsurable and we, the condo owners, would have to pay. The monthly fees we pay come to almost $8 million per year. I guess that’s not enough to repair pipes.
   In an article, "The Why and How of Amending Condo Documents," attorney Daniel M. Polvere said the following: "It may be a good idea to circulate proposed amendment accompanied by a brief explanation and rationale for the change." If we (the residents) had been clearly told that we were accepting this cost; if they had listed each change in the bylaws and given a rationale for each change, we would have undoubtedly voted no. If they said that these repairs were paid for with our monthly fees in the past but they wanted us to pay instead, that would be a rationale that we would not have accepted. We may be older and gullible but we are not stupid.
   Another resident, John Vergano, and I have spoken to hundreds of residents and not one understood that we were accepting this responsibility. One letter sent to residents before we voted stated: "they (the bylaws) are clear, complete and up-to-date. They will serve us well in the future." We can only assume "us" referred to management.
   Some of our section directors, but not all, are taking steps to amend the bylaws and take back the responsibility for the plumbing pipes within and below our cement slab floors, but we are now still responsible for the pipes, wires, etc. within our walls and management seems unwilling to take this responsibility back.
   The last census taken in Rossmoor indicated that 70 percent of our residents are women and the average age is 74. With age, many of us, like our parents, become too trusting and reliant on the good intentions of others. We become complacent and believe that others will treat us with the same respect and thoughtfulness that we receive from our children. Unfortunately this is not so and every week we read about a scheme that someone thought up to dupe the elderly.
   Condo owners beware. If your association wants to draw up new bylaws, insist that they list every change and give you reason for the changes. Make sure that you receive something in writing that states that the bylaws are not transferring responsibilities to you. Then, show all documents to an attorney. If I had to do it all over again, that is exactly what I would do. Don’t assume that management is looking out for your good interests.
Janet Huet