Denying Visions variance is unconscionable

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Letter Letter

To the editor: 

Our elected and appointed officials are supposed to act in the public interest and for the overall good of the communities they serve. The Absecon Zoning Board failed to do so when members denied an application by AB Visions, the owner of the unfinished portion of the Visions development, to lift the 55-and-over age restriction.

Visions, as it was originally conceived, has failed miserably. Nothing is going to change that reality as long as the age restriction is in place. The project is destined to remain dead and decaying unless a plan can be implemented that will enable it to be completed and turned into the vibrant, thriving development that we as residents originally envisioned.

That will only happen if and when it can be marketed as an all-age community. Real estate analysts are unanimous in their opinion that the market for age restricted housing, particularly in our region, has evaporated and isn't likely to come back anytime in the next several years. Additionally, those who are in the market for age-restricted housing are increasingly gravitating to single-family homes, not condos. 

Residents of Visions have no options. Our homes are not salable, and the community we live in is unsustainable. The Absecon City Council has been aware of this situation for years. AB Visions has presented several options over the past few years to move this development forward. This city has offered no plan to rectify the problem, and no relief has been offered to the few residents who are living out this nightmare scenario.

Absecon has also acknowledged that it is deficient in meeting its constitutional obligation to provide affordable housing and must devise a plan to address that. AB Visions' plan for future development of the project, absent the age restriction, would provide a way for the city to satisfy a large portion of that requirement by designating 60 of the 400 new units to be built as affordable. Those units would fit seamlessly into this type of development and eliminate the need to shoehorn affordable housing into existing single family home neighborhoods where it doesn't fit at all.

It is unconscionable that the Zoning Board opted to ignore these realities and deny this variance that would have provided a pathway for Absecon and Visions to move forward together toward a mutually brighter future.

Lewis Leitner


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