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Stephen Yellin: Better Long-Term Plans Needed to Address Town Needs with New Development  (TAP Series)

Stephen Yellin: Better Long-Term Plans Needed to Address Town Needs with New Development (TAP Series)

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Each week leading to the November 6 election, the candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Mayor and Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Democratic Township Council Candidate Stephen Yellin for Week 2.

Week 2 Question:

  • What is your recommendation for an infrastructure plan to handle the impact of the addition of approximately 1,000 new housing units as part of the Affordable Housing Settlement? (Please include scope of impact on roads, services and infrastructure.)

The first important thing to note is that the Township has been working on a settlement of their Affordable Housing obligations since 2015.  The fact that we don’t already have an infrastructure plan in place – let alone are implementing one – is a clear example of why we need change. The Mayor and Council have known from the beginning that we would be seeing hundreds and hundreds of housing units built, at a minimum. That they have not been proactive in preparing a plan to address these needs is a major example of why we need change in Berkeley Heights government.

If elected, I would work with Angie Devanney, Alvaro Medeiros and the returning Council members to implement a long-term plan to address these needs. This plan would include important goals to achieve within 2, 5 and 10 years (through about the year 2030). Some of the proposals I would consider for this plan are:

  • Create a Citizens Review Committee to fully assess all our infrastructure needs and update our Master Plan, which last saw significant changes in 2007. We have many capable residents who are experts in various fields that relate to long-term planning, and they should be a full part of the process.
  • Establish clear targets so that we have an acceptable standard to measure progress on our Master Plan goals.
  • Revamp our budget’s Capital Plan to increase funding for road repairs. This includes using new micro paving technology to extend the life of repaired roads for up to 15 years beyond their initial lifespan. This will help keep down the costs of repairs and additions to our infrastructure.
  • Reexamine the waiting list of streets to be repaved so that the most urgent needs are met first. The last review occurred in 2014 and some neighborhoods are in significantly worse shape today.
  • Explore all opportunities to bring departments, community groups, and county and state agencies together and share resources to fix some of our problems. A good example of this is the need to repair and upgrade our sports fields, something I’ve pushed for since 2016.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of residents this year who worry about the quality of services they get for the taxes they pay. I believe they want and deserve a town government that listens to them and plans for the future accordingly. I see it, I feel it, and I know we can do better. That’s why I’m proud to join Angie and Alvaro in fighting for Change We Can Agree On – and, with your help, we’ll meet and overcome the challenges Berkeley Heights faces in the years to come.

‘We Need Action, Not Just Words’ to End Hate

We unambiguously condemn the disturbing flyers distributed in our community by supporters of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as the racist and anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.

This is not who we are, and we must never give in to those who incite fear and hatred – never. All of us must do our part to ensure hate has no home here in Berkeley Heights. The forces of hatred are emboldened by the silence of good people. We must speak up.

But our community must also go beyond words. We need to do all we can to support those who are angry and upset. We must partner with community groups working toward eradicating hatred, racism, and prejudice. Most of all, we need to listen to community members and organizations who are most directly affected by these displays of hate and intolerance. We need action, not just words, to ensure everyone truly feels they belong in Berkeley Heights.

We will make it a priority to support the work of these community groups and engage with them on a regular basis. Our ongoing, constructive dialogue should seek to educate all residents on how we can work on seeing the world through the eyes of marginalized members of our community, so that we can better understand their perspective.

This struggle is not new, nor will it end soon – but we must do our part to end hate.

Click here to read the original article about the incidents in TAP. 

‘Deeply Concerned’ About the Impact of Warren’s Housing Settlement

We are deeply concerned about the impact of Warren Township’s affordable housing settlement on Berkeley Heights residents. This settlement means 192 housing units will be constructed on a strip of Emerson Lane that belongs to Warren, while the rest of the neighborhood belongs to Berkeley Heights. An additional 176 housing units will be built on the other side of Hillcrest Avenue from the entrance to Emerson Lane. Plus, there is proposed development on nearby Bonnie Burn Road, as well.

This will have a very negative impact on Berkeley Heights residents who live on or near Emerson Lane, leading to greatly increased traffic as well as additional wear and tear on our roads.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact of Warren Township’s affordable housing settlement on Berkeley Heights residents. This settlement means 192 housing units will be constructed on a strip of Emerson Lane that belongs to Warren, while the rest of the neighborhood belongs to Berkeley Heights. This will have a negative impact on Berkeley Heights residents who live on or near Emerson Lane, leading to greatly increased traffic as well as additional wear and tear on the roads.

This news only further serves to emphasize the urgency of developing a clear plan of action to address the challenges posed by having nearly 1,000 housing units added to our town in the next 2-3 years, including its impact on traffic and infrastructure. This plan should already be in place but none currently exists. We will work to create this plan if elected, while learning about and communicating news from neighboring towns that also affects us. We need to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to responsibly managing the future of Berkeley Heights – and that’s Change We Can Agree On!

Click here to read the latest on the Warren affordable housing settlement.

Get to Know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Stephen Yellin: Week 1 TAP Question

Get to Know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Stephen Yellin: Week 1 TAP Question

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Each week leading to the November 6 election, the candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Mayor and Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Democratic Township Council Candidate Stephen Yellin for Week 1.

Week 1 Questions:

  • Why are you Running for Office?
  • What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the elected office you are seeking?
  • What do you think the major issues facing Berkeley Heights are at this time?

I want to serve on the Township Council because this has always been my hometown and I care about making it the best it can be. Three generations of my family have called Berkeley Heights home, and they definitely made the right call! Growing up here meant I was fortunate to be educated in one of the best public school systems, walk or ride my bike on some of the safest streets, and be part of a community with a remarkable commitment to others. Now, it’s time for me to give back as best I know how.

We have a great town but we have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to local government. The expertise and skills I would bring to the Council, together with Angie Devanney and Alvaro Medeiros, will help us make the positive changes necessary for that improvement. I have a proven track record of making positive changes and promoting common-sense ideas (many of which have been adopted by the Council), of “walking the walk” when it comes to communicating with and listening to our residents, and seeking common ground and reasonable solutions to the challenges we face. These things, together with my extensive knowledge of Berkeley Heights history and public policy in general, make me one of the 2 best candidates for Township Council this election (Alvaro being the other).

The major challenges Berkeley Heights faces today are as follows: 1) Responsibly managing the Municipal Complex project (already $4 million over budget and with an average tax increase of $179 per household); 2) Fixing our roads and sidewalks at a much faster rate than we do now; 3) Planning for the impact of new housing and programs that will put additional strain on our infrastructure; 4) Identifying ways to embrace inclusiveness and give all residents a say in the future of our town; and 5) Working harder to communicate with residents and earn their trust for our efforts in local government.

Click here to read Stephen’s Week 1 answers in their entirety. 

Get to know Mayor Candidate Angie Devanney (D): Week 1 Question

Get to know Mayor Candidate Angie Devanney (D): Week 1 Question

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Each week leading to the November 6 election, the candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Mayor and Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Democratic Mayoral Candidate Angie Devanney for Week 1.

Week 1 Questions:

  • Why are you Running for Office?
  • What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the elected office you are seeking?
  • What do you think the major issues facing Berkeley Heights are at this time?

Berkeley Heights is a great community, but we can do better. I am running for Mayor because as a mom sitting on the sidelines at many ball games, I witnessed our fields fall into disrepair; as I looked around the town, our roadways seem to be worsening with each year. Opportunities for additional revenue and cost saving measures were missed. Many aspects of our town can be managed better; we need improved management and fiscal responsibility. My experience with running the day-to-day operations of Berkeley Heights government will allow me to hit the ground running on Day One along with my team, Alvaro Medeiros, Stephen Yellin and Susan Poage. I also believe in service and giving back to the community whenever possible. It is a privilege to serve the community where I am raising my two children – Abbey, a 5th grader at Mountain Park and Ryan, a junior at Governor Livingston High School – and ensuring that they continue to grow up in a community that makes us all proud.

I gained vast knowledge of town operations and experience during my time as Township Administrator; I ran business operations, overseeing the departments of DPW Public Works, Engineering, Finance, Zoning/Construction and Public Safety. I am skilled at creating shared services; such as the agreement I reached with the County in IT and printing. My experience and relationships in local, county and state government will allow Berkeley Heights to maximize grants funds and other resources.

Click here to read Angie’s Week 1 answers in their entirety. 

Stephen Yellin & Alvaro Medeiros: Real Experience, Real Solutions, Real Change

Stephen Yellin & Alvaro Medeiros: Real Experience, Real Solutions, Real Change

As we get closer to Election Day, we’ve been thrilled by the increasingly strong support our campaign has received. Residents we meet while going door to door or in small groups are grateful to learn what’s going on in Berkeley Heights, and really appreciate the positive solutions we have for the real challenges we face. That message of positive change is what our campaign is truly all about!

It is vital that our entire team is elected; otherwise, we lack the votes on the Town Council to turn our positive solutions into reality. That’s why we want to tell you a little about us and why we want to earn your vote. We are running because we have the experience, the ideas, and the commitment to bring our community together, and make a positive difference in our local government.

Why vote for Stephen?

 

For Stephen Yellin, Berkeley Heights is, was, and always will be, home – his family first moved here over 50 years ago. Stephen went through our public schools (Mountain Park, Columbia and GL), and came home after graduate school in order to give back to our town as a voice for reasonable, common-sense change. An active volunteer for over a decade, Stephen has successfully fought for improved communications with and from residents, including recording and digitizing Council meetings, deploying e-updates, moving Executive Sessions to the end of meetings, and holding “town halls” to discuss issues with residents at times more convenient for them.

Stephen successfully worked with a coalition of residents to prevent overdevelopment in the Free Acres/Emerson Lane neighborhood as chairman of Stop the BAC’s political committee, keeping residents informed by sending reports on Council meetings to the Independent Press. He also helped expand revenue and cut wasteful spending at United Way of Greater Union County.

“We need new leaders, with the right background and positive solutions, so that we can get Berkeley Heights government back on track while promoting inclusion and respect for all residents,” Stephen says. “That is what Angie, Alvaro and I will do if elected. By electing all 3 of us, we can start writing that new chapter in the history of Berkeley Heights – one we will all write together!”

Why vote for Alvaro? 

Alvaro Medeiros has a proven track record of serving our community, including volunteering as Quartermaster of the Governor Livingston High School marching band and as an active parent with the local Boy Scout Troop Committee. He was appointed to the Environmental Commission earlier this year, where he has worked with fellow volunteers to promote environmentally friendly programs such as a Community Garden and the Trex Thin Film Plastics Challenge.

Alvaro has risen through the ranks at AT&T for the past 24 years to become an Associate Vice President. His business and financial background means he will bring valuable experience when it comes to responsibly managing our tax dollars. Alvaro and his wife Amalia have lived in Berkeley Heights for nearly 25 years, where they’ve raised their children, Adrian and Beatriz, who graduated from our public schools. Alvaro knows first-hand just how much every vote counts in local elections.

“Last year, I ran for Town Council to bring the right type of change in our community. My running mate Susan Poage won, and I nearly joined her. I fell short by seven votes; more proof that EVERY VOTE MATTERS, particularly on the local level.

“What I saw and continue to see in our current leadership worries me. My goal last year was to take a more active role in the township and to be part of the leadership, to be at the table when decisions that affect us all are being made, and to help bring about change for the better. This is why I am running again and am proud to join Angie Devanney and Stephen Yellin on the Change We Can Agree On ticket.”

On November 6th, join the growing movement of Democrats, Republicans and Independents in voting for Angie Devanney for Mayor and Stephen Yellin & Alvaro Medeiros for Township Council.