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Council Candidate Jeff Voigt Voices Concerns over the High Density Housing Proposals in Ridgewood

Jeff Voigt Ridgewood
March 15,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, the Ridgewood asked for some feed back from the candidates on the March 9th “informational ” meeting with the Village Council on the high density housing projects for the central business district .

Council Candidate Jeff Voigt said ,  “I am concerned there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty around the school children projections.  The analysis done by BFJ planning makes the assumption that the mix of units in the new buildings will be the same as existing apartment inventory and then uses this assumption on what the number of students will be moving forward.   Since the builders can build whatever they want, this assumption should not be made.  As I had suggested at the meeting a sensitivity analysis should be done on the best and worst cases.  it is a relatively straight forward process and would provide us with the risk and costs of various scenarios and the likelihoods of these happening. ”

Jeff brought to mind another issue , “Another concern is that once these ordinances are approved, my guess is that the developers will start ASAP on building, considering their concern about the potential make-up of a new council.   This will make downtown a mess – with 4 potential large developments going up at once – the parking garage plus 3 multifamily developments.  In particular, the S. Broad St area is going to be impassible.   It would be nice to see the developers understand this and do their best to ensure the downtown is not disrupted. ”

Jeff went on to say that , the real estate agent (who stood up) expressing his concern about 55 students coming out of 70+ apartments.  This type of relationship also holds in the Ridge Apt’s where 37 children come out of 40 (2 bedroom) apartments. Since Ridgewood is a magnet town for education I can see many families moving into these apt just for the education – even in the one bedrooms.  If either of these scenarios plays out with the new developments – we could have 100+ children in our school system.   Not good.

He also added that , “The planning board needs to scrutinize the site plans for each of these developments very carefully considering each site plan should have a plan for how daily life/traffic is going to function while they put up their rather large edifices.   Stipulations made by the planning in their approval is going to be extremely important.”

Jeff also echoed the sentiment of many residents when he said the meeting ,”Overall, very disappointing”

26 thoughts on “Council Candidate Jeff Voigt Voices Concerns over the High Density Housing Proposals in Ridgewood

  1. Very reasonable, smart comments. Impressive.

  2. How can we add 70 apartments and not have an impact on water and sewage? What about other infrastructure systems?

    I know the developers and/or others answered these last week, but really? Let’s add more housing to the village and not impact these systems? We already go into water restrictions at the start of June, how is this going to work?

    I’d like to see these questions asked and answered honestly. Prove it one way or the other.

  3. The school impact assumption that RHS is unlikely to be impacted by the proposed apartments as families do not move as their children approach high school is wrong for Ridgewood. As a generality, that may hold true but not here. Lots of families start moving in in 7th or 8th grade because their kids need the AP and honors classes offered at RHS. Many of them move into rentals for the four or five years they will be here with their children and then they leave and a new family moves in. The apartments and two families on Gilbert Street have revolving doors for asian families who come just for high school.

  4. 11:23–you are correct. I own residential rental property in Ridgewood. In the past decade I have seen a number of families with high school age children rent for the specific purpose of sending their kids to RHS. And yes, many of those are Asian. Believe it or not, I understand that there are real estate agents in Bergen County who advertise in Asia touting the rental opportunities in towns like Ridgewood–the big selling point being RHS. This seems to be a very robust market.

  5. Anon- we would all like to see them answered honestly. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen.
    Jeff, THANK YOU for being brave enough to speak out on this issue. They’re going to try to force you out, but you can fight hard.
    Get it done!

  6. You have my vote.

  7. Not sure what the point was behind calling out that some of the students and families are Asian but I’m sure the idea of renting in Ridgewood to take advantage of the school system is not limited to a specific ethnicity. I own in Ridgewood and take issue with any crowding of the school system by anyone and any developer.

  8. 1:06 p.m. In my neighborhood there are rentals that are rented by and large by Asian families, most of whom are temporarily transferred here from overseas and want a great education for their kids. so they rent in Ridgewood.

  9. 1:06 – It was not my intent to “call-out” any specific ethnic group; I was just pointing out the absurdity of the planners assumption that students don’t move into Ridgewood as they get older. They have stated that there will be no impact on the middle and high school. It is a fact that families (primarily Asian) move INTO Ridgewood rentals to take advantage (in a good way) of RHS. My kids had many Asian friends who entered RPS in eighth or ninth grade, lived in rentals and whose families left Ridgewood immediately after graduation. No doubt the presence of the Asians drives up the competition RHS which I consider a good thing. No one wants to discuss this fact for fear of being labeled racist.

  10. Well this thread sure pulled the curtain back on the real reason people are against the apartments. We are certainly waiting for Jeff to respond to these comments from his supporters.

  11. The Planning Board is part of the problem, not the solution.

  12. All of the developments should go up at once to disrupt the business of the business owners who want high density construction and a big parking garage , who want to turn Ridgewood into a congested city , who only care about lining their pockets.

    Let their businesses be disrupted for years, because they are destroying the lovely atmosphere and character of Ridgewood FOREVER.

    We shouldn’t shop in CBD ;anymore if high density passes. What the hell Voight. What are you thinking.

  13. It doesn’t matter where new residents come from. It doesn’t matter if they are here for years or here for just one year. What is important is our town’s ability to provide a great education for each and every student, no matter how new or how old that student is to our district. With a state imposed cap on our school budget that is only allowed to increase by 2% per year, our district may not be able to handle a large influx of children without stressing already large class sizes. More kids does not lead to the hiring of more teachers and additional classrooms, the 2% cap won’t allow for this. If these new zoning approvals to build at 35 units an acre are the beginning of a new development trend in Ridgewood, then the residents deserve to know how this new trend will impact our schools and how will we pay for it? The good news, your taxes won’t go up because the state-imposed 2% cap will not allow for a tax increase. The bad news, you will pay for it with larger class sizes. 200 plus units today will look like a drop in the bucket 5 or 10 years from now when all of this expands throughout our CBD.

  14. He has my vote. I just hope the next council can reverse some of the disastrous decisions this council will make this spring.

  15. Anonymous Asian (aka 1:06 pm) – no one is “calling out” Asians. But it well-known tthat many Asian families, including some of my kids best friends, move here in 8th or 9th grade for the purpose of attending RHS where the AP and honors curriculum is extensive. And this trend does seem to be predominantly Asian familes (I have no data, just observation) The studies that have been done with respect to school impacts patently deny that anyone moves to Ridgewood in the upper grades. This is the basis for the position that RHS will not be impacted by the proposed developments. It’s absurd. Families move into Ridgewood for RHS.

  16. Don’t forget the “domino effect ”
    If taxes go up to accommodate the needs of the BOE, many of us who have no kids in the schools will be selling.
    Who will buy our homes? Young families with children, 100 new students iS the tip of the iceberg . It could easily be 1000.

  17. this is the year , all new mayor and council, they will clean the house from the top, the top brass are shaking.

  18. 2:14 – I don’t think that the reason anyone objects to the apartments it racially motivated. But we need to account for this trend when planning for the apartments, not blissfully ignore it because we are afraid we will be tagged “racist.” A lot, if not a majority, of rental units in Ridgewood have school aged children. I admire these parents for wanting the best for their children and we need to ensure that we do whatever is necessary to maintain quality schools for all of our students. I’ve seen plenty of development agreements where the developers have to set aside $$$$ to address potential impacts. I’ve seen instances where funding for a school was included to absorb projected student (Jersey City). We need to make sure we get this right and it’s wrong to buy into the assumption that “older students do not move into Ridgewood.”

    4:12 – yes, the amount of time someone stays in RPS does actually factor in the impacts of the apartments. If families move-in and out every four years, those rental units never “age out” of having students in the system. This The same goes for a certain percentage of residential sales that turn each year after the last kid graduates from RHS. Again, it’s ridiculous to buy into the assumption that older students do not move into the RPS.

  19. 6:56 pm – Remember that families that no longer have kids in the school system have been selling their houses to families with young kids for over 100 years. That behavior is already baked into the system. Building apartments that will bring new kids into the system for the first time is not currently contemplated in our forecasts or budgets.

  20. Face it, the three projects will be built. However, as part of the approval process Ridgewood should create a developers agreement which would require a contribution to the school district and or parks department. It is being done in other towns, maybe the Village should begin using this requirement as part of approvals going forward?

  21. Builders adjust the distribution of sizes and layouts of the residential units they plan to build based on anticipated demand. Thus they are highly motivated and accordingly invest good money in an attempt to get and stay knowledgeable on current demand trends. We should probably find out who is advising the builders on this score, bite the bullet, and pay that consultant to give us the same information. If it’s true that apartments are being sought as a low-cost way to shoehorn students grades 7-12 into high-performance school districts, we need to confirm this fact and act accordingly.

  22. The hard math and hard science programs at RHS have been intentionally starved of resources to prevent the kind of growth in diversity and educational value that has been the clear trend in the softer academic disciplines. This has to have been deliberate. One questions the long-term wisdom of this kind of behavior. More particularly, if this tactic was initially envisioned by the sage administrators of the Ridgewood district and scheming members of the Ridgewood Board of Education to function as a kind of “poison pill” to head off and prevent a feared hostile takeover, it appears to have failed and should probably be abandoned.

  23. If anyone is actually interested in some objective data on the questions, I point you to this website:
    On that website you can find grade-level enrollment in Ridgewood going back to the late 90s. That data is actually broken down by race and gender as well. Using this data, it should be possible to answer the following questions:
    1. How many students are entering the system right before high school?
    2. What race are the students that enter right before high school?
    3. How is the racial mix of the Ridgewood school district changing over time?
    I don’t doubt any of the anecdotes above regarding rental apartments and houses being rented to families with the primary goal of enrolling their children in RHS. But before such anecdotes are concluded as a “problem” or a “trend”, and thus a reason to predict what will happen in future development, I think it would be wise to actually look at the data! If I get some free time I may actually conduct such an analysis myself…

    1. right answer wrong question

    2. “objective data” lol

  24. Haha, yes, big lol! So hilarious. Who would think that the actual enrollment data in the Ridgewood school system is “objective”??? Haha. Haha. Lol. Haha. Lol.

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