Tell our Borough lawyers and experts to come up with ways to allow enough affordable housing – without destroying one of the last few open spaces in town.
Our elected representatives deny having plans to stick a 100+ apartment development behind our Main Street Post Office, clogging up already congested streets, displacing the popular Cottage Deli, and destroying our free, public, parking lot.
They claim that whatever they decide to build in Post Office Plaza will be small scale and low density.
Now we know that isn’t true. So stop wasting time. Tell our lawyers and experts to come up with alternatives.
Our Mayor & Council have already taken steps to facilitate swift construction of a 100+ unit, rental housing project in Post Office Plaza.
The proof is in an agreement the Mayor signed – and the Council approved – on June 14, 2021, agreeing to tight deadlines calculated to lead to a final deal with the developer by June 1, 2022.
(See for yourself in Sec. 8.b.iii, 12. & 13 of that agreement, shown in the Sept. 18 post at www.chathamchoice.org; and discussed at https://chathamborough.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=55, 34:22 through 35:38)
Contrary to what you may have heard, that June 14 agreement does NOT limit the size of the project at Post Office Plaza. Just the opposite!
In effect, that agreement requires construction of at least 100 rental apartments at Post Office Plaza, as our professional planner Kendra Lelie conceded at the Sept. 27 Council meeting.
(See for yourself at https://chathamborough.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=56, 1:44:00 through 1:44:26. In theory, they could substitute 75 for-sale units, but that’s out, as it’s less profitable for the developer.)
Only way we can avoid getting stuck with that eyesore is for the Mayor to step up, invoke the “or” clause in Sec. 8.b.iii, and persuade the powers-that-be to accept another way to get enough affordable housing.
A 100-unit rental development will bring in hundreds of new residents, driving at least 130 additional cars, plus many more carrying employees and patrons of the new retail shops and restaurants.
(See Sec. 4.4.3 of the 2019 Redevelopment Plan, http://www.zumu.com/zumu/chatham/Post%20Office%20Plaza%20Redevelopment%20%20Plan%204%209%2019.pdf).
We’ll be forced to replace our free, convenient, public parking lot with a dangerous garage that’s sure to attract crime – in return for a mere 15 -17 affordable apartments – and with NO significant benefit for residents or taxpayers.
The actual size of the project could exceed 200 units, given the lax 2019 Redevelopment Plan.
The developer will be eligible for taxpayer help financing the project and a 30 year break from paying normal property taxes!
(See Sec. 5.11 of the 2019 Redevelopment Plan, http://www.zumu.com/zumu/chatham/Post%20Office%20Plaza%20Redevelopment%20%20Plan%204%209%2019.pdf).
There’s no need sacrifice Chatham. Our experts know many ways to allow affordable housing. Ms Lelie calls them “mechanisms.”
Some possible mechanisms include:
- subsidizing existing apartments;
- converting old office buildings to residential use, as resident Fran Drew has proposed;
- building assisted living or senior housing, perhaps near the train station; or
- some combination of the above.
Tell our Mayor & Council to have their experts show us Chatham residents and taxpayers some “mechanisms” that will preserve our free, convenient, public Post Office Plaza parking lot – and without condemning anyone’s property.
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