The most recent Englewood City Council meeting tackled a slew of critical issues, chief among them the city’s ongoing struggle to increase the availability of affordable housing.
The Council focused on two key ordinances, 2320 and 23-21. Ordinance 2320 proposed an amendment to increase affordable housing development fees for builders who opt out of constructing affordable housing. “This is the update to the city’s development fee ordinance which requires Builders…they have the contributed development fee to the city’s affordable housing trust fund…” explained Councilman Charles Cobb. The fee is a 2.5% contribution to the city’s affordable housing trust fund, a number which sparked vigorous debate.
Ordinance 23-21 put forward measures to tighten monitoring, reporting requirements, and compliance with The Fair Housing Act and the Uniform Housing Affordability Controls. Councilwoman Lisa Wisotsky detailed, “This updates our affordable housing ordinance to require monitoring…defining what affordable developments are…it also mandates that the availability of affordable housing within the city is put out there in terms of marketing and notifying agencies…”
A sense of urgency filled the room as the Council addressed the flooding problem that has troubled the city for years. The proposed acquisition of property at 47 Brook Avenue for storm water management and flood mitigation earned positive response, following the recommendation of a hydrologist for the construction of a retention basin on the property.
Public participation was a recurring theme throughout the meeting, with a lively public comment section raising concerns about police equipment, recreational programs, and city infrastructure. City officials also underscored the importance of transparency and accountability, with Kenneth Rosenzweig emphasizing, “I’d like to see those vehicles on the road so people feel safe and we present safety in all parts of the town.”
Further discussions ranged from updates on playground equipment, securing a vendor for AV systems replacement, to addressing the city’s issues with transportation connections. “We call ourselves a progressive City; how could we not have good transportation?” exclaimed Laura Vogel, expressing her concerns about the recently approved $34.9 million contract by New Jersey Transit for the FIFA soccer system.
Finally, controversy arose when a debate ignited over the placement of polling places in religious institutions, bringing the separation of church and state into sharp focus. Yet, despite differences of opinion, the importance of public participation in the governance process was universally agreed upon.