PJ BLOGGER

The Valley Hospital “Renewal” and COAH

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2008 at 2:16 am

The planning board wants to give Valley Hospital all it desires through a Master Plan amendment. The costs to the Village of affordable housing must be considered. The Village has a material deficit in outstanding COAH units and the major projects contemplated will increase the deficit to 260 units.

Creating affordable housing in high cost, fully developed areas is cost prohibitive. Ridgewood has limited multi-family zoning and conservative estimates of $300k per unit for land and development equals $78mm. Ridgewood used to pay other towns to absorb our requirements, but the State has removed this option. We’ve been able to defer our COAH obligations by claiming hardship, the inability to create these units in a fully developed area.

There are three distinct COAH costs that Ridgewood taxpayers could bear due to the Valley Expansion: direct and indirect COAH costs and historical deficit costs.

Direct COAH costs.

Hospital growth should not create COAH requirements, but the concern in Trenton for affordable housing has resulted in limiting, or eliminating, the hospital exemption of prior years.

The cost of building 120 units to meet the COAH requirements of Valley’s Expansion are significant. Building this many units, with some market rate units blended in, will be difficult to build within the Village’s current zoning. The additional costs for water, sewer and other services must also be considered.

Valley is certainly lobbying hard in Trenton to get the COAH requirements dropped. The fact remains, however, that the sheer enormity of Valley’s plans, paired with the significant increase in permanent Valley employees that will result, will convince Trenton that Ridgewood should bear more COAH requirements. It is critical that Valley be held fully responsible for this and not, as has been suggested, be allowed to pay the Village a set amount to take on this massive open ended liability.

Indirect COAH costs.

Families with school-age children are most in need of affordable housing in New Jersey. Should families relocate to Ridgewood to use our affordable housing, the children will pour into our school system. If each unit houses one or two children, it is possible that 240 children, or more, will enter a system that is already near overflowing. While taxes paid by landlords would cover some of the costs (assuming no tax break for building the units), the rest would surely be borne by Ridgewood taxpayers. Schools will need to expand to accommodate the 4% increase in student population. Ultimately, the expense level for Ridgewood residents will rise sharply, and Valley, using its non-profit status, exempt from property taxes, would shift the burden to us.

Historical Deficit Costs.

This issue may present the greatest cost to the Village of Valley’s expansion. The Village’s professional planner said that approving Valley Renewal and other high profile projects in town would undermine our historic defense for not meeting our COAH requirements. By relaxing our zoning standards for these projects but not for affordable housing, we weaken our own case. To open the Village to this degree of financial and litigation risk for the benefit of Valley Hospital’s business is unacceptable. The Village’s historic deficit stands at 140 units. If Ridgewood must find the land and develop the units this amounts to $42mm and we, the taxpayers, will bear this cost.

Some will take issue with my assumptions but the Ridgewood taxpayer should be frightened of the probable outcomes that a liberal statehouse, rampant expansion and the Valley Renewal will bring.

Valley’s current proposal would increase density at the current site by 73%, add considerable parking spaces and increase employment. These three dimensions are significant parts of the COAH formulas to determine requirements. The storage facility has already been approved, so there’s not much we can do on that front. The parking garage proposals incorporate COAH units to mitigate the direct requirements it will generate. That leaves us with Valley’s Renewal, which is still before the planning board and can still be impacted if enough residents are concerned about this and the other negative impacts.

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  1. Shift the COAH burden to Valley contractually.

  2. Everyone should now speak up and get Valley to pay.

    Since the Planning Board is clearly on Valley’s side (as they obviously did not bother to listen to any comments agaiinst the Valley plans)we need to continue to fight and get Valley to own up to its obligations to the Village.

  3. Can the planning board approve the Valley ‘renewal” before the new board is in charge? If the answer is yes then what are our options?. It seems it is a done deal that will NOT benefit OUR Village, but Valleys paradise

  4. As others on this blog have said, the lame ducks need to stop quacking and let the new people take over the big decisions.

  5. Excellent analysis on COAH. Let’s also factor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in inevitable litigation costs that the Mt. Laurel housing “can of worms” always engenders before a settlement is reached. STOP THE MADNESS—STOP VALLEY.

  6. What can be done to stop Valley? I would have thought the recent Council elections would have slowed or stopped this. Can anyone explain what the planning board staff recommended and what happens next. Can the current lame duck Council pass the change to the Master Plan in the limited time they have left?

  7. The changes to the Village Master Plan need to be seen an IMPORTANT ISSUE for the people in Ridgewood.

    It is so much more FAR REACHING into ALL our lives than the BOE and its decisions!

    The Zoning changes and ordinances affect everyone here from baby to the elderly, not just those of us with children in the system.

    Please make it your PRIORITY to find out about the proposed changes and then THINK very hard about what they will mean for you and your neighbor, and your friend across town as well as the people you have yet to meet.

    I know that the proposed changes are hard to understand and ARE DESIGNED TO CONFUSE but that is all the more reason to question them!

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