Affordable Housing For Montclair’s Wildwood Property?

Montclair’s valuable undeveloped “park front” property has been an issue First Ward councilor Rich Murnick has been actively involved in — the Wildwood Ave. property adjacent to Brookdale Park and owned by the town is part of his ward. So he was surprised to learn of a new item added to the agenda for this week’s meeting — a resolution supporting recommendations by the Housing Commission for the Wildwood property involving affordable housing — when fellow council knew in advance he would be out of town on a scheduled vacation.

Murnick, who hopes the agenda item is postponed until he returns, say it’s a slap in the face to have a vote on an issue regarding the Wildwood property when he is not in town to attend and represent the interests of his ward. “It’s like voting on an item about bicycling when the Mayor is out of town,” says Murnick. “The only reason to sell the Wildwood property is to help lower taxes. I agree with affordable housing, but I don’t believe in giving away lots when we need tax relief.”

The Montclair Housing Commission is recommending that two of the lots be auctioned to the highest bidder for construction of single family homes and two of the lots be sold at negotiated prices to a builder of two affordable houses. One of the affordable houses would be sold to a “low income household” described as earning 50 percent of the area’s median income. The other affordable house would be sold to a “moderate income household,” one earning 80 percent of the area media income.

Murnick can’t imagine any developer paying top dollar for the lots only to “give one away,” and adds that the area is not near the trains and transportation, factors you consider when creating affordable housing. The properties, if designated affordable, will also bring in less taxes per year — another loss for the town, says Murnick.

This map details the undeveloped Wildwood lots. Lots 1, 2, 3, 4 on page 2 are the properties to be sold.

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.


  1. I disagree with Murnick. This town needs more affordable housing and I believe every time a developer builds 10 house, 2 should be designated to this. Trust me, affordable housing is still barely affordable for a family making an honest living making between 60,000 – 80,000. It’s a shame that he doesn’t see a need for this. Go on your lavish vacation and hopefully come back with some common sense.

  2. There is affordable property in Montclair, it is called Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley or Clifton.

    Growing up in Montclair I couldn’t stand the people who scraped and pinched to live here – then put on airs about it. (“No we live in Upper Montclair) Driving their bald tired cars to BBTC. We had neighbors who made a lot and spent even more and lived a deranged version of high end poverty. It was pretty awful to be around.

    NJ needs affordable housing but not every town needs it. We aren’t miles and miles from options.

  3. Murnick is 1000% correct on this issue. (and no, that’s not a typo)

    I am so regretting voting for “Mayor” Fried and his slate of “give it away” idiots.

  4. Agree with hrhppg; I think, although I’m not sure what bald tires have to do with anything??? In any event, the town doesn’t need affordable housing supported by our incompetent local officials. Let the free market figure out if people can afford to live here.

    If town royalty wants Montclair affordable, they should spend their time figuring out how to lower property taxes – the free market will take care of the rest. If a starter home turns out to be $300k, then that sets the bar for affordability. There are fine rental options and there are other towns at a lower price point.

  5. …why don’t they just put up some cell towers and reap the rewards while still holding on to the properties? Or is that too “Bloomfield-ish” for Montclair?

    “It’s like voting on an item about bicycling when the Mayor is out of town…” Ooh, two bowls of milk, please!

  6. Two whole units of “affordable” housing. WOW.

    I don’t have a problem with a requirement that a certain number of units be designated “affordable” in a multi-unit building or development.

    Here though, with 4 houses, it doesn’t make much sense.

    And I’ll add that when taxes in UPPER Montclair get figured in, what might be an “affordable” house will quickly be UNaffordable.

    Or does it come with a break in taxes too?

  7. Lower taxes?

    What happens when the surrounding schools need to be updated to handle the extra students that the housing brings?

    If this was such a meritorious project developers would have come to Montclair inquiring about that property as compared to it going to auction where someone can grab it at a bargain. Losing some nice green space for housing units that wont lower taxes is short sighted.

  8. There is affordable property in Montclair, it is called Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley or Clifton.

    Let them eat cake!

    NJ needs affordable housing but not every town needs it. We aren’t miles and miles from options.

    I’m not sure this is a good idea or not, but the liberal hypocrisy occasionally pointed out by cathar and ROC sure is evident in this thread. You can’t have the diverse town you’re all so proud of, without have a couple ‘diverse’ neighbors.

  9. So Mike your point is anyone that fits the mold of “diverse” needs affordable housing ? Interesting.

    This stinks of corruption. Someone at the Housing Commission has a brother in law who is a developer or something.

  10. I find myself in agreement above with Mike91. Gee, wonders really never do cease.

    Hrhppg (which I always take to mean “her royal highness of Pittsburgh Plate Glass,” which hints at how seriously I take your aeolean huffing), that really was a very contemptible remark you posted above about Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley or Clifton. Even, as they say, a “tumbrel remark,” meaning one to be cited as the outraged peasants roll you off in a cart to the guillotine. I’d hope you weren’t serious with such snottiness but, based on many of your previous posts, you most probably were.

    It was very wise of the good prof, however, to wonder if those two “affordable” houses would also come with built-in tax breaks. Otherwise, well, who among even the local version of the working poor could actually afford to live on them?

  11. Right…. I’m a snob. People should live outside their means at the expense of others and I’m a snob.

    Well I’m off to the Plaza to insist that they match my current rent for one of their high end units. I can’t wait to ask Prada to match Wal-mart’s prices on shoes and bags.

  12. affordable housing with regards to detached hoursing seems silly, unless of course those homes are significantly smaller in scale, on the other hand decent multi-unit housing that doesn’t seem like a newer version of the Brewster projects might be okay; as to the Nutley comment why would anyone have a problem with that, those racist xenophobes should be glad that is all that was said about them

  13. Affordable housing is necessary and should have appropriate services at hand like public transportation service and affordable shopping. This site has neither. These services would also have to be provided in order to make the project successful. Perhaps the Bay Street area is more suitable because it has more available and affordable services.

  14. Perhaps this is a payback of some kind for putting the mental healthcare facility in the South End.

  15. Go on your lavish vacation and hopefully come back with some common sense.

    It’s fine you disagree, qby33, but the ad hominem remark is ugly.

    Where is it written that a family making between 60k and 80k a year deserves affordable housing? What about the 5 percent of residents who fall below the poverty line? Or are they too poor for that neighborhood?

  16. per frankgg, no doubt, affordable housing belongs within walking distance of shops and mass transit. But out of respect for ROC’s views, we shouldn’t subsidize it a whit, rather, we should wait for the trickle down theory to trickle away. That way, the poor only get the crummy stuff the rich have left behind. That’s what I call compassionate conservatism!

  17. Where is this vinylized mess going to be? Could the Baristas put up a pinpoint map so us out of towners can gawk in shock & awe. Montclair Preservation Commission better be on top of this one. Oh, I’m not sure if they even have one?

  18. (of course I may have grazed over them but …. )

    I’m not seeing any mention of seniors as contenders for affordable housing. One of our perceptions with regard to affordable housing is young-ish families but there is that entire class of older Americans who either downsize or change to something different because their life situation has changed a great deal.

    Of course the other folks that fall into the affordable housing category are the handicapped, which may include recently returning veterans. How cool would it be for a veteran who returns to his family missing arms or legs to be able to raise is family in a great town like Montclair.

    Let’s not limit our deifinitions of affordable housing to the likes Snooki and friends.

  19. johnleesandiego you make a good point and also add to the list of reasons why affordable housing should be near public transportation or walking distance to shops, which as has been mentioned, this spot is not.

  20. PAZ is right, it will be nothing more than a vinylized mess.
    Vinyl siding and vinyl shutters screwed into the vinyl siding. And stooopid looking vinyl windows, too. With vinyl grilles, for that Colonial flavor. Just so TJ and Ben can feel at home.
    And arborvitae – very important!
    Building ugly crap for the poor is a great motivator for the poor to improve their lot, and make them want to move out ASAP, out to a bigger vinylized mess in Boonton or Hackettstown. With many more vinyl windows. And many more arborvitae.
    More is better ! Supersize!

  21. What a bunch of irresponsible morons. The real estate market in Montclair is at a 10 or 15 year low and they want to pick this time to sell Town real estate property. To top it off they want to allocate units for “affordable housing”.

    Home prices keep falling! The whole town is getting more affordable every month! We don’t need to build more of it.

    If you want to make the town more affordable fix the budget.


  22. Is there ever a time when affordable housing isnt needed? It’s not a matter of supply/demand. It’s the law that when you build X number of market priced housing, you have to build Y number of ‘affordable housing’ units.

    As we’re onto things affordable–I’d like more affordable grass fed beef.

  23. “I don’t have a problem with a requirement that a certain number of units be designated “affordable” in a multi-unit building or development.”

    Of course not, it’s not YOUR money prof! Should it be decreed that college professors teach one section for free to make college “more affordable” I’d imagine you’d sing another tune.

    If the good taxpayers of Montclair want to subsidize affordable housing then they should bloody well pay for it. Use tax dollars to buy properties at full price and then sell them at half price.

  24. That’s not what’s happening in Bloomfield. our town council has voted to not have affordabke housing requirements attached to the Downtown redevelopment and nthe Oakside development.

  25. Come on Spiro you sound a bit snobby yourself. There’s a reason for vinyl. It’s AFFORDABLE! Have you ever done a cost comparison of keeping it wooden vs. vinyl windows. i can afford the wooden and made that choice but many people even in the middle incomes can not.

    The social manipulation of affordable housing has such a unsatisfactory history in lots of towns in NJ. Is anyone ever happy with the outcomes, especially when it’s in their own backyard?

  26. Dang, Dag, you done figgered me out ! I am a snob ! That’s why Montclair is my kind of town !

  27. …but seriously, DagT, vinyl only seems more affordable. True, a vinyl window is 150 bucks and a wood window is 1000 bucks, installed. But the wood windows will last a century or more. Our house still has the original 1905 wood windows, all doing fine, if a bit rattly in spots. The chains and weights are gone, replaced with tracks, but the sash and frame are intact. The owner before us put a few vinyl windows in here and there and they lasted 10 years and then fell apart.

  28. The more I read on here, the more I realize that most folks don’t care if this town turns into another non-diverse town like Livingston or Short Hills. Affordable housing has to go to people who have good credit and a solid work history….isn’t that who deserves it Walleroo? They have to be able to afford the taxes and the loan…it isn’t free! We’ve applied for it, been approved, and it isn’t as LOW as one might think.

  29. Affordable housing adds low tax paying citizens requiring high cost additional municipal services, not exacting the right prescription for a town that faces fiscal crisis. Montclair can’t afford affordable housing.

  30. I have no idea who should or should not qualify for “affordable” housing in Montclair. But it is clear from comments above that many posters would prefer Montclair remain an enclave at least exclusive in atmosphere. (I also thus assume, as per hrhppg’s charming sneers, that we could then assign black folks to Bloomfield, Hispanics to Nutley, Arabs to Clifton since the town already has so many of ’em….)

    Kind of like this very web site, in fact. Come to think of it, who besides the good prof here ever identifies him/herself as of non-Caucasian origin? There used to be a few others, but they seem long gone, although I’d be happy to have other posters correct me on this.

    Or is a taste for vinyl siding the real social demarcation line here? God but I hope not.

  31. Caucasian, non-caucasian, who cares! It’s just a matter of aesthetics, longevity, style, historic value. We’re packed into this little county of Essex and sometimes it’s nice to tool around and see some architecture that pleases the eye and takes us away from the the humdrum.
    Just went to see “Midnight in Paris” and realized that we all have our “Belle Epoque” and….The age of Vinyl is not mine.

  32. ~ ¤ ╭⌒╮ ╭⌒╮
    ,)))),”)~~ ,”~)
    ╱◥█◣ ╱◥█◣
    ╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬ Is this the Oakside development or Wildwood?

  33. And speaking of Oakside. Can someone from Bloomfield expound upon what that’s all about? I must have missed that if it was covered in B’net.

  34. What a ridiculous idea! How will these households be maintained? Will their taxes also be abated each year? Will their utility bills and repair costs be supplemented and/or underwritten by the Housing Department? How can a family who has half the income typically required to purchase a single family home reasonably provide for the upkeep required? It’s an absurd and amateurish attempt at housing policy.

    Montclair’s leadership is a joke! I continue to be shocked at how ill considered and unprofessional their initiatives are – part Lucy Ricardo/part Ralph Cramden. Also, I cannot get over how tone deaf they are – what part of we are overwhelmed by taxes and they should be looking for ways to INCREASE revenue opportunitties and decrease non critical expenditures do they not get?

    When is the next election? This is unbearable (and financially unsustainable!).

  35. If the property qualifies for a PILOT program, the owners or renters will qualify for a reduced payment to the town in lieu of taxes or PILOT. Some reasons that allow a PILOT agreement to be extended include properties being built or renovated for housing to be provided to low income residents or seniors. PILOTs can also be awarded for buildings built in a plighted area designated in need of redevelopment.

    The town has several large affordable housing buildings that are covered under PILOT agreements. These include one building for senior citizens, and several for low income residents. The Siena condos qualified for a PILOT program because it was identified as an area in need of redevelopment. These agreements can be awarded by the town council providing certain criteria be met and providing the town does checks every year to ensure compliance with eligibility criteria.

    The amounts paid under PILOTS go to the town with a very small portion (maybe 5%) to the county. The school does not get any portion of the amounts paid in lieu of taxes.

    The town continues to rely heavily on debt. It is bizarre that additional affordable housing units are being considered at a time when it seems more appropriate to reign in the spending and fix the bloated budgets and pay down some debt.

  36. And the developer may qualify for a 30 year low interest loan if they can get a Pilot agreement for the property on which they seek the funding.

  37. girlyfeminist,
    While it was not your intent, I think you just gave portions of a strong economic argument for not selling the property now.
    Unfortunately, this property sale is a done deal. It is just a feeding frenzy now of various, long-standing interests getting their “share”.
    Let’s ask Mayor-elect Africk or Murnick to promise a full accounting in 2012 of how this sale benefited Montclair other than as an election year platform issue. BTW, W1/W2/W4/AL1 are all coming back (one slot or another), so what election are you waiting for?

  38. I realize now, girlyfeminist and hrhppg and so many others (maybe even PAZ) that I was mistaken about the famous poem. Its Montclair version properly should read “Give us your tired, your hungry, your poor…but only if they can afford the tax bite. Otherwise they should be steered to Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley and Clifton.”

  39. Actually cathar,

    If you are talking about minorities, Nutley is not the place to steer them to and Montclair does not have a large Hispanic population –
    Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 5.4%

    nutley (% of population)
    White 83.1
    Black or African American 2.2
    American Indian and Alaska Native 0.0
    Asian 9.1
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.0
    Some other race 4.5
    Two or more races 1.2
    Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 9.0

    Belleville does have a much larger Hispanic population
    White 57.4
    Black or African American 5.8
    American Indian and Alaska Native 0.2
    Asian 13.5
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1
    Some other race 20.7
    Two or more races 2.2
    Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 36.5

    And Bloomfield is more of a mixed bag:
    White 74.5%
    Black or African American 12.4%
    American Indian and Alaska Native 0.8%
    Asian 4.4%
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1%
    Some other race 5.6%
    Two or more races 2.2%
    Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 15.1%

  40. ipso,

    Not sure which sale you’re referring to. The possible sale of Wildwood?

    As to numbers, I’ve spent the majority of my time trying to track down numbers and have repeatedly called for full investigation where things looked odd.

    I actually read through documents and reports. Tonight’s Agenda includes many and for an example of what I do I was the one to notice that the school spending Ordinance that will be voted on tonight includes a half dozen projects that aren’t even in the BOE’s Capital Budget this year. Turns out it was a mistake and they weren’t even planned, but you get my point: people don’t read this stuff. I do.

  41. Yes Cary, Wildwood.
    As one of your appointed re-election advisers, I think you need to stop being defensive as your starting point. I was not suggesting anything unsavory.
    I am saying that the next mayor should lead a public hindsight on the asset sale. Did it actually contribute to Montclair’s strategic objectives or was it just a one-off operating fund offset? If the sale justification is based on the latter, than I think this is the wrong market to sell. Maybe I’m wrong.
    What you should do now is ask the OBAC to submit an opinion. I can guess what the CFC would say.

  42. Cary, since you brought it up…
    Re: the BOE Capital ordinance 11-041 & 11-119
    Then there are 2 mistakes, because the BOE passed the resolution March 14th. So either 11-041 is factually incorrect or 11-119 is. Ooops!

  43. Ms. Gilleran, it was not my suggestion to park supplicants for “affordable” housing in towns like Nutley and Belleville. That came from another, seemingly far more callous poster than I happen to be this morning. (As well as one who on this very site professes to be far more liberal politically than I probably ever am.)

    It thus helps to pay real attention to the thread before you post on it in a mistaken attempt at chiding me. Try not to be so didactic next time, too.

  44. @cathar I responded to your
    “Kind of like this very web site, in fact. Come to think of it, who besides the good prof here ever identifies him/herself as of non-Caucasian origin? There used to be a few others, but they seem long gone, although I’d be happy to have other posters correct me on this.”

    It pays to remember what you’ve posted dude!

  45. My comments about other towns was because they are also nice, with good school and less of a tax burden then Montclair. We aren’t some island where if you can’t get a house here your family is jettison into space.

  46. And yes cathar, I can’t afford the tax bite of Montclair which is why after a wonderful childhood there I moved. It is called living within my means. Despite my best efforts The Plaza isn’t having me, something about free market value.

  47. Yes, Cathar, we are a community but we are NOT a charitable organization. You don’t know me nor anything about the work I do for/within the greater community but you are quick to “categorize” me. I won’t be silenced by some attempt at middle class guilt or subtle hints at racism. A community needs to have financial health in order to care for it’s more at risk residents and Montclair is not in a “healthy” situation financially. We are grown ups and cannot condone our government chasing idealistic rainbows while a crisis looms. We are not abandoning our idealism but rather addressing our reality.

  48. Forgive me if this has already been addressed, but would the Wildwood property / development be subject to the requirements of COAH?

  49. Kay, I believe the gubnor abolished COAH. Although I don’t know what the implications are.

  50. It’s an absurd and amateurish attempt at housing policy… We are grown ups and cannot condone our government chasing idealistic rainbows while a crisis looms. We are not abandoning our idealism but rather addressing our reality.

    Well said, bears repeating.

  51. Lots of great posts. There are indeed no shortage of subsidy programs available to developers. Multifamily projects commonly set aside 20% 0f their units for subsizdied housing, and thereby qualify for more attractive financing terms. Let’s remember that altruism is not a commonly found character trait among real estate professionals. It’s interesting but I just read an article last week about how renters in these units, which typically are indistinguishable in their high end appointments to the market rate units, have a perverse incentive not to raise their incomes lest they lose their eligibility for this bit of largesse. That said, I believe that housing subsidy programs, if properly administered, are valuable in that they incentivize developers to build in, and often serve to invigorate, moribund areas. Obviously, they also provide important housing resources. The difference is that these developments add to the tax base and are often the catalysts for broader based improvements.
    Now, what seems to be a bit of a head scratcher is why would anyone think that affordable housing would be the highest and best use for a parkside parcel of land, especially when there are some pretty sketchy neighborhoods whose residents could truly benefit from some form of housing rehabilitation while maintaining their character culturally and economically. What purpose would it truly serve to build to incongruously placed homes in such an area, other than to potentially benefit the developer somehow? Follow the money.

    BTW, anyone that thinks that this town is in any danger of losing it’s diversity needs to have their head examined.

  52. Thanks, Spiro – gonna look it up now.

    Wish we could make a community garden out of that site! Of course, the likelihood that the developer would grandly donate the land so that I could finally grow some tomatoes, is slim to nil…

  53. Dear dead,

    The issue of affordable housing is complex and we would all benefit by understanding more, as you have started to do.

    There are laws and regulations. Some are at the State level, some have been implemented at the local Montclair level, i.e. we’ve decided to do more than state law requires.

    It would benefit us all to understand these. Some, such as COAH, change dramatically (it was essentially abolished by the Governor, recently).

    I believe we in the Municipal Government have an obligation to the public to help them understand. I don’t believe we have filled, or are fulfilling, that obligation.

    The Council votes on complex issues without educating the public. In public session the Council votes on reports without making those reports available to the public.

    I am doing my best to change this.

    With regard to this specific proposal, for Wildwood, I can say this:

    The Montclair Housing Commission has produced some extensive reporting on the status of affordable housing in Montclair, along with ideas for accomplishing more. This is intelligent, good writing. But again it’s not being made available to the public.

    A small part of what they wrote was their recommendations on Wildwood.

    As to Wildwood, I can also say that there are no developers that I am aware of that would benefit by the actions being discussed.

    I object to any action on Wildwood being taken tonight for two reasons:

    1. We routinely show courteousy to Councillors when it comes to important business in their Wards. We should wait until Murnick gets back.

    2. The issue has not been fully vetted with the Community. More discussion is necessary.

  54. Because the site is adjacent to a large open public space, due to underlying local water management problems (its safe to assume) and due to the park’s important historic significance (the park was created by the Olmstead Brothers who’s dad is responsible for Central Park in NYC), the site could qualify to be purchased by a public land trust, and then just adjoined to the public park.

    Trust for Public Land

    Dept of Environmental Protection, Green Acres NJ

  55. Is Rich Murnick ever NOT on vacation? He hasn’t been present to support his ward at a lot of scheduled Council meetings (and budget votes) over the last two years because of vacation.

  56. “Trust for Public Land

    Who can doubt that the public’s interest would best be served by having the county borrow money to pay the township for a transfer of public land? Then one set of tax payers can pay interest to another set for decades to come!

    We’re talking about the crappy looking tree shrouded lot on Grove adjacent to houses and the Grove street entrance to the park, yes? Housing is a totally appropriate use of the land and would not diminish the park at all (especially considering how ugly that lot is currently).

    If the township doesn’t need the property it should be sold to housing developers (subject to current code restrictions). But NOT during a market nadir (dunces!).

    Do nothing now. Sell it later in a better market. Use 100% of the proceeds to reduce the township’s long-term debt.

    Fiscal sanity now.

  57. @frankgg the Brookdale Park Conservancy was told point blank by Joyce Goldman, Director of Constituent Services that the county was “NOT Interested” in partnering with us on a green acres grant for any or all of the Wildwood tract.

    There are 4 additional lots that are not being sold (my impression Carry A could confirm) that abut Brookdale Park. I’m not msure what if anything the town uses them for.

    I personally think a community garden would be a great idea.

  58. Selling town property right now is idiotic. There is a house in Montclair, in Upper Montclair, in my neighborhood on the market for $299,000. That’s not a typo. There’s another on Bradford Ave. that’s on the market for $320,000 and the tax bill is $16k. Yes, they both need work but what makes them unaffordable to a family earning $80k a year is the tax bill. And Rich is correct, this should not be an agenda item without the 1st Ward being represented. The actions of this council are just bizarre and childish and I really cannot wait until they are gone and can only hope we’ll have some choices that include candidates with some fiscal common sense instead of a social agenda.

  59. “…candidates with some fiscal common sense instead of a social agenda.”

    Save the social agenda for the President, right?

  60. Other than ill concieved affordable housing, the only other possibly worse fate for the Wildwood property would be Crisco Court Part II .

    Leave the space alone.

  61. Yes, ROC, except, rather than the President, the social agenda is being set by the House of Representatives, and they’ve recently spent a lot of taxpayer dollars paying themselves salaries and talking about how much they really really hate those new lightbulbs.

  62. Liz….Could you please put up a map of this Wildwood site in question, it would be helpful…..a photo just doesn’t do it.

  63. ipso,


    “Cary, since you brought it up…
    Re: the BOE Capital ordinance 11-041 & 11-119
    Then there are 2 mistakes, because the BOE passed the resolution March 14th. So either 11-041 is factually incorrect or 11-119 is. Ooops!”

    041 is incorrect in that it approves spending on projects the BOE has no intention of doing this year.

    119 says it’s an emergency and we have to do right away what we’re not going to do, i.e. there’s a rush to not do what we’re not doing.

    I hope this makes sense to you ’cause it doesn’t to me. Beats me why we just didn’t correct the mistake.

  64. I’m not confused ….. I know exactly what I’m doing. I tried to correct this mistakes.

  65. Randall, I agree with your comment “… the town doesn’t need affordable housing supported by our incompetent local officials. Let the free market figure out if people can afford to live here. If town royalty wants Montclair affordable, they should spend their time figuring out how to lower property taxes – the free market will take care of the rest.”

    I see in another article here on Baristanet, they are looking to add more senior housing. What would be nice is letting the seniors that currently own homes keep their homes, by reducing the property taxes and giving some tax relief. Without addressing the aggressively addressing the cost problems, you’ll drive the homeowners out (reducing their values) while bringing in more lower income people. Adding more costs to the infrastructure and less revenue to cover the costs. I hope they’ll be able to cover the debt service costs that this TC continues to issue in a hurry.

    Speaking of which, Cary, thanks for trying to speak up and address that they shouldn’t be issuing more debt tonight. Unfortunately, you seem to be the only one with financial common sense out of the whole Town Council group.

  66. Since I live across the street from the unsightly lot iI can attest to the fact that the town is a terrible neighbor. Surely common sense will prevail in the council and any decision will include the ward’s Mr. Murnick. Not to do so would be an insult if not plain criminal political behavior by Baskerville and others who waited for him to be out of town in order to railroad something thru. The lots should bring market dollars for maximum effect. This is not the time to play social worker for so-called low-income housing with town property. That makes no sense. The duty of the council as owner and zoning enforcer is highest and best use of the land, not below market restricted use. As a local licensed realtor, market prices for buildable lots could be around $1,400,000 for 4-lots. Current Zoning makes them single family dwellings on presribed lot sizes, with current set back lines and garages not facing the street. For marketability, style and design should be appropriate and suitable. Selling the lots should be transparent, with a local real estate broker. In the mean time I will conitnue to voluntarily cut the weeds to make it as presentable as possible.

  67. Did anyone watch tonight’s town council meeting on Channel 34? What a lame group of government. It is all about personal agendas with the three “Friedamigos” driving the boat. They are taking this town to hell in a bike basket.

    I only hope I’ll have better, more financially savvy people, to vote for with the next election. Let’s pick some folks that not only “went off to college…”, but completed college and have relevant work experience to truly help with the serious issues facing this town, rather than the personal agendas of bike paths and affordable housing for homes that they might one day, soon, need. I’m done with this crew. Can we have a count down for them?

    They are screwing the Pine Street condo owners as much as they are screwing all home owners with bringing down the overall values by their inaction or action for personal agendas. Many are referring to the Friedamigos as the socialist group. I’m starting to better understand this nickname.

  68. I wake up, stagger to the bus stop, rumble through the tunnel, shuffle to the coffee shop for my morning brew, plop my fat ass down behind my desk, log on, look for something to do to put off work a little longer… and what do I see?


    Oh, hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Sweet Jesus, I can die now.

  69. Oh really, Roo, I know she’s cute and all, but must you babble and drool so? You’ll muss your shirt!

  70. 1) Liz is my landlord, so I have to keep her sweet;
    2) She has a nice picture as an avatar, whereas you have a gigantic K, which, though it is my favorite letter in the alphabet, it cannot compete with a human face, especially not Liz’s face;
    3) Were you here at 7:50 am? No you were not.

    The defense rests.

  71. LOL! at 7:50 I was still spraying on the final coats of shellaq and trying on shoes!

    Now I have to go look for a new avatar.

  72. Why are you spraying shellaq on your shoes at 7:50 ayem? You should try polish, it’s must less messy. Or perhaps pain au chocolat, or a bran muffin.

  73. Adorable is your own projection of what you want me to be, Kay. I am in actuality a grump.

    What is that avatar? Little Orphan Annie? Madeline? Or is it a picture of you from the year dot?

  74. Of course this is a one-time budget gimmick, and of course this is an awful time to sell property in Montclair. What I don’t grasp is why the current council cannot grasp either of these facts. Or, do they think we’re really so stupid that we citizens don’t grasp this? The previous council too used one-time gimmicks. Of course, we voted them away. Of course, we’re still suffering from the gimmicks.

    It’s a shame that nobody is looking at how this property – and other properties owned by the town – cannot be managed or rented or sold in a way that provides not a one-time splash of cash to be wasted and a tidy benefit to developers, but an ongoing revenue stream that can help reduce the burden of current and future Montclair taxpayers and renters.

    I still think that the proximity to the park has a value to be exploited by putting a “sit in the park” restaurant, an outdoor-sport-supporting recreation facility, or some such other thing. Either of these commercial uses could be a net benefit financially in a town with far too little commercial property. And these are just ideas from someone – me – that really has no expertise in something like this. I’m sure others can do better.


  75. Andrew,

    Well, when it comes to gimmicks I’m surprised no one notes that the remaining dollars from last year’s gimmick — selling the inspection station — were put back into the operating budget this year. Along with putting about $400K from “leftover” money from a bond issue from years passed. Borrowed money for Operating Expenses. Again.

    Too bad the Capital Finance Committee has been totally put out to pasture. Perhaps they could help?

  76. Cary,
    In prior posts you mentioned that last night’s bonding of Board of Ed money was for projects not intended or not intended for a while. Were the amounts changed to correct this error? Or is this an effort to secure more cash for operations?

  77. “Along with putting about $400K from “leftover” money from a bond issue from years passed. Borrowed money for Operating Expenses. Again.”

    That’s not legal, is it?

  78. ROC,

    Well, I think I’m on to something ….. I’ll have to start wearing a disguise, I fear ….

    Apparently it’s entirely legal to take “left over” money from a bond issue and put it into operating funds. Ideally, you’re not supposed to HAVE left over money. Ideally, you have it because things have turned out that you spent less money than planned. Ideally, if you had leftover money you’d use it to pay down debt, in any case.

    Of course, the conspirators around might say “Gee, what a nifty way to get more money into the operating budget!” I would NEVER say that.

    Nonetheless I’m looking into the “history” of our putting extra money back into operating.

    Again, I’ve looked into this and it’s perfectly legal, and I’m told “everyone” does it. Needless to say I think it’s a very bad practice.

  79. allabout,

    The project description was NOT changed. It is still incorrect. But the AMOUNT we are financing is correct. It’s just that we’re not using the money in the way its described e.g. spending is indicated for HS Solar Panels. No. For fields. No. etc.

  80. RoC, you probably already know that this is my actually alter ego, except when I am behind the wheel…

    Of course, now I can’t find my own posts anymore!

  81. @Cary Plenty of people were against the sale of the old DMV property because this was clearly a gimmick. Didn’t you ultimately vote for that? Or am I misremembering?

    As for “no one notes”, isn’t part of your job yelling about this? Why not a Gimmicks&Tricks column in the MT? Or even just blog posts on the subject that the rest of us could pass around to our friends and neighbors. There’s something to be said about the lack of attention paid to these issues, but you’re ideally positioned provide some of the missing publicity. Plenty of us are willing you help, but you’re the key component – the person “inside” that is issuing the warnings.

    As for “extra money”, why not use that to pay down debt? Why not make that an issue: propose legislation to require this for the future? Even if you cannot get the votes on the current council, might that not help people notice the tricks being played on our wallets?


  82. @Cary can you explain more about the process by which the council is voting on BOE Capital items? Is this because it is the town that is actually borrowing the money?

    How would the council get bad documentation like this? Does it come from the BOE, or is it somehow built on the town side? Why is it even being considered if it doesn’t correspond to the BOE capital budget?


  83. As I understand current day bonding, it is impossible to have “leftover” bond money unless you equate it to the practice of getting a cash advance on your credit card and calling it “leftover” money.

  84. ipso,

    Good analogy….

    Andrew, school debt is really debt taken on by the town. The school via the BOSE tells the town how much in needs and the town goes out and borrows it.

    The school sent over a six year capital plan. For some reason a mistake was made in transcribing the plan numbers. Current year, 2011, was used in part of the description but someone read off other years, e.g. 2012, for the rest of the description.

    There was ample time to make the corrections. The BOE called in the corrections even before the First Reading of the Ordinance. No one wanted to make the correction. No one cares.

  85. Please excuse me for having misread that there are four lots and two of the lots are to be destined as affordable housing. I thought that it would be like a condominium instead. Now I’m even more confused….especially to think that any free standing house in town could ever be affordable, even if it is conceived to be so.

  86. Yes, Frank. They plan on building houses. Free standing. What’s even more odd is they also want to buy a townhouse in a complex that already has a significant portion of it’s units dedicated to affordable housing and is having serious financial difficulties because of the number of owners who are in arrears on the fees. Imagine, the township is going to buy a condo in a complex that already has condos allocated as affordable units. I’m all for affordable housing but there are already a number of homes in town that are sitting on the market at greatly reduced prices that no one is buying. And if what ROC says is true, no one is applying for affordable housing either. So why are we (taxpayers) buying a townhouse in a complex that is having financial issues and why are we selling a prime piece of residential real estate abutting a park at a price that will have to be well below market in an already down market?

  87. Let me remind people about the Affordable Housing regulations. These houses, in Montclair, have to be made available to people across a defined region that includes ALL of Essex, Union, Warren, and Morris County.

    Not just for Montclair residents.

    Oh, and by the way? The current “waiting list” for these houses is over 400 people.

  88. Cary, big question. Is there a state mandate regarding the number of units we should have and are we meeting it? I honestly have no idea. For a property to be considered “affordable”, is there a formula that includes purchase price as well as taxes and how is that formula applied? So when our taxes go up 22% in 3 years – does that impact the affordability equation?

  89. I couldnt find an affordable apartment to live in this year! Later Montclair! you cant give me parking, an affordable apartment or saftey. Yet you build more affordable housing that I cant even apply for. 🙁

  90. Gurl, COAH is like may liberal ideas – an attempt to legislate the problem away. Got poverty? Legislate it away!

    I’m curious, gurl, you are in favor of socialized healthcare, isn’t this just the same kind of thing? A way to take away from the “haves” (you!) and give to the “have-nots”? Subsidized housing seems perfectly consistent for the liberal ideology.

  91. With regard to Montclair’s obligation on Affordable Housing, etc.

    First of all, there are income quidelines as to who can qualify for low, moderate, or “workforce” housing. Low income guideline is about $44K for a family of 4 living in Montclair.

    Now the calculation says to be affordable, you have to be spending less than 30% of your income on housing costs. Say it’s a house. That means debt, real estate taxes, and insurance. So, in the case above, that would mean your housing costs would have to be less than about $13K per year, or $1,100 per month.

    I would imagine, thus, that an affordable house would have to be sold for about $150K then.

    For tax purposes, the assessment would also be $150K.

    If a developer has a substantial number of houses, or condos, he can “afford” to sell a fraction of them at “affordable” rates. The people paying market rates, of course, will pay more to subsidize the affordable ones.

    But if a developer only has, say, 10 homes, and say these are “high end,” the price for the market rate purchases will go up substantially. Figure it out. If the developer has 10 homes, and the “market rate” is $700K each, and he has to sell 2 of them for $150K, how much does he have to sell the $700K ones for to make up for “lost” profit?

    As to how Montclair is performing, our last Town Planner, said we were doing quite well in fulfilling our lawful obligations.

    This is confusing stuff …… I only wish I could get the Town to publish more thorough information. In the meantime, though, there’s THIS from the State:

  92. Ah yes! Its that time of day for the old “unions are destroying the country” song! Everyone join in!

    Oh well, at least you can’t fault ROC for lack of consistency. In his own life, I am certain that he eschews all “subsidies” like student loans and home interest deductions, etc. He pays as he goes and asks for nothing from anyone! A modern-day rugged individualist for sure!

    As for my financial strategy, I intend to lure ROC into a high-stakes game of poker now that I have an inkling into his grasp of the phrase “call my bluff”!
    Palm Springs, here I come!!!

  93. Wow, $1100 a month!??!? I haven’t paid that since our first house, in 1989, with a mortgage of I think $110K and taxes of around $4K. HAR HAR HAR HAR!

    Let’s assume taxes for the affordable house were $8K, which I would imagine the property on Wildwood would be (unless there is some special abatement?) and assume insurance is $80 a month, that means the owners would have about $350 a month left for principal and interest… which equals a mortgage of about $75K. So if our hypothetical homeowners have a down payment of $75K then I guess they can move into their affordable house!

    what the — ?!??!?!? Am I missing something here??

  94. Gurl, COAH is like may liberal ideas – an attempt to legislate the problem away. Got poverty? Legislate it away!

    Actually, COAH was established in reaction to a NJ Supreme Court decision that found that Mount Laurel was unconstitutionally using zoning laws that made it impossible for developers to offer low-income housing in that town.

    So, the ‘problem’ this legislation addressed was an unconstitional law. I know how that warms your heart, what with all you right wingers wrapping yourselves in constitutions you don’t seem to understand.

  95. “But if a developer only has, say, 10 homes, and say these are “high end,” the price for the market rate purchases will go up substantially. Figure it out. If the developer has 10 homes, and the “market rate” is $700K each, and he has to sell 2 of them for $150K, how much does he have to sell the $700K ones for to make up for “lost” profit?”

    So in order to make up the losses on the “affordable” houses he has to make the other homes large mansions. Or McMansions, if you will. So the incentive is to make very high end homes to offset the very low end homes and screw the middle.

    See how this works?

  96. What’s lost profit?

    Don’t you think a developer decides whether he builds properties based on getting “X” back, which includes the hit on the low income properties?

    If he’s not going to turn a profit at all, he doesn’t build. Given the growth of our state lately, someone is making money.

  97. “So, the ‘problem’ this legislation addressed was an unconstitional law.”

    Generally Mike, the solution to an unconstitutional law is it’s overturning. COAH goes well beyond that.

  98. Generally Mike, the solution to an unconstitutional law is it’s overturning. COAH goes well beyond that.

    The second decision invited a legislative solution, because so many towns were being sued.

  99. Ha! Love all the frothing at the mouth about affordable housing in the 1st Ward. No one bats an eye when affordable housing is dumped on the 4th Ward, but its pitchforks and torches when its in your backyard!

  100. Okay RP then you can explain how anything in a town with an average tax bill of 25K can be considered affordable housing.

  101. The smart 44k/year family would buy the 150k house and flip that puppy faster than an IHOP pancake. Make a few of those deals you go from the poorhouse to penthouse. Yes, the American Dream is alive.

  102. So in the example of the developer designating affordable housing at below market rates but making the discount up on the other, market priced units— imagine the lender who is asked to approve a loan for the “regular” priced houses, artifically inflated to accommodate the subsidized houses. Laughable. It is absurd on the face of it. That loan underwriter would likely write the value down because of the neighboring ownership restrictions. I have yet to meet the generous buyer who will actually pay more for housing so that the immediate neighbors can get a break. Again, if the lots are to be sold for a cash infusion, let it be at market rates. If the land can generate rental income, so be it. I doubt that any builder will see an opportunity in getting involved with the Montclair town council and other powers, based on their record over the years. Hahne’s building 10 years plus; Marlboro Inn-7 years. Professionals (builders) dealing with well meaning amateurs (town officials) has not worked well.

  103. thanks Cro. I was guessing based on the area of town I know and neighbors. The constant increases are a big topic of conversation. No one is paying 15, or even 25 that I know.

    I like that side by side comparison, 15k for Montclair compared 8k for Bloomfield and Clifton. Seems there are options for people looking for something affordable.

Comments are closed.