FR&A Analysis: State GOP Misrepresents Facts In FR&A Story For Somerset County Freeholder Campaign Hit Piece


A political hit piece against the Democratic Somerset County Freeholder candidates, which hit Franklin Township homes the week of Oct. 29, misrepresents a story that appeared in the Franklin Reporter & Advocate.

The story, which was posted on April 25, is about the Township Council and Planning Board approving a housing element and affordable housing fair share plan.

The mailer, which was paid for by the state Republican Party’s “Choice for Change,” is targeted at Deputy Mayor Shanel Robinson and Somerset Hills Board of Education member Sara Sooy. Both women are challenging Republican Freeholder incumbents Mark Caliguire and Patrick Scaglione.

Among other things, the mailer charges that Robinson supported “an explosion in cluster housing” in the township.

A citation after the claim is for the April 25 FR&A story, which is headlined, “Affordable Housing Plan, Housing Element Approved By Planning Board, Township Council.” The story about steps the township took to affirm that it had met its affordable housing obligation through 2025.

Rather than approving “an explosion in cluster housing,” as the Republican mailer states, the story states that the township’s action inoculates “itself against lawsuits from developers who want to build housing in Franklin, and the potential of up to 3,000 more homes being built.

“The plan sets 2,076 units as the township’s fair share of affordable housing through 2025,” the story states. “The township has met that goal, principal planner Mark Healey said, with 814 units already built, 249 units with site development approvals and 168 units included in current zoning, as well as 97 ‘surplus’ units already built from a prior obligation round, the extension of housing restrictions on 315 current low- and moderate-income units and 519 bonus credits.”

Healey said in the story that “(t)he township is meeting its obligation though units already in existence, already under construction, already being contemplated,” and is retaining control of its zoning.

Robinson is neither a member of the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, and had no say in approving any of the applications Healey referenced.

The state GOP mailer also accuses Robinson of violating state ethics laws, ostensibly because she filed her 2016 Personal Financial Disclosure Form one day late in 2016 and 30 days late in 2017.

The flier also repeats the misstatements about Robinson and Sooy – that Robinson voted to increase property taxes and that Sooy voted to up propert taxes by $2.5 million during her tenure on the board – which were included in an earlier mailing.


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