2015 Voter's Guide: Ward 7 (Andrew Karasik and Elizabeth Rogan)

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1. What is one thing you would like to see changed in Lower MerionTownship? Please explain how you will work to effectuate that change.

Andrew Karasik: Lower Merion is one of the greatest communities in the Country. Our graciousness and quality of life are second to none. But the future of our Township and our status as a suburban enclave are threatened by the "rubber stamp" attitude of the Board of Commissioners. Lower Merion's success depends on its residents. A Board of Commissioners that too often promotes the interests of developers and institutions at the expense of residential property owners flies in the face of all that makes this Township great. We need new leadership in Lower Merion which will fight for the interests of residential property owners and ensures that their rights always come first.

We can achieve this through rewriting our zoning code to include provisions that are protective of residential property owners, such as amending the special exception process to insure that the burden of proof remains primarily on the applicant for relief, and by ending the practice of appearing to "rubber stamp" conditional uses and zoning approvals. We elect our Commissioners, not institutions and not developers.

Elizabeth Rogan: I’ve been advised by counsel not to respond since we are in the midst of litigation w/you & the SAC in our roles as elected officials as well as individuals.

2. Does Lower Merion Township have any responsibility to maintain, protect or create affordable housing? What do you propose should be done to foster housing diversity in Ardmore and other parts of the township?

Andrew Karasik: The dream of living in Lower Merion is one that has influenced young families for generations and rightly so. Our schools are some of the best in the Nation, our location is second to none, and our quality of life knows no equal. However the ability to achieve that dream is quickly evaporating with increased out of scale development at the expense of affordable housing. Nearly every new development in the pipeline is priced beyond affordability. And while logic would dictate that more expensive development increases revenue for the Township, this is unfortunately not the case. Rather, increased apartment units only perpetuate the tax shortfall our School District faces. Most residents, regardless of the type of residence, use resources at the same rate, yet those in apartments pay significantly less in taxes through their rent.

As a Township, we should actively work to further housing diversity. New projects should include an affordable housing component, especially in historically affordable communities like Ardmore. We can achieve this through the expansion of an Affordable Housing Fund, where funds from development rights for Township properties such as the Cricket Lot can be used to subsidize affordable housing. We can also work with developers to be better citizens of the Township, helping to promote a spirit of fostering diversity in new developments.

Elizabeth Rogan: I’ve been advised by counsel not to respond since we are in the midst of litigation w/you & the SAC in our roles as elected officials as well as individuals.

3. What are your thoughts about the use of state taxpayer monies for private development?

Andrew Karasik: Private development has the potential to jumpstart an economy or revitalize a village core such as Ardmore. The usage of state funds for private development can help jumpstart a project and prove attractive to new developers, but state funding should never be used to fund private profit. When necessary infrastructure improvements that benefit the entire community are made as part of a new development, state funds can be used to subsidize those improvements. However, those improvements must benefit the entire community and must significantly improve infrastructure.

In the case of the One Ardmore Place development, state funds are being used inappropriately. The RCAP funds were earmarked for major transit improvements as part of the "Ardmore Transit Center Project". The current development at One Ardmore Place neither benefits the local transit community nor does it serve to enhance access to transit for the current residents of Ardmore. Rather, the development brings more residents and congestion to Ardmore, further densifying a burgeoning community. And while One Ardmore Place will include the building of a parking garage with public spaces, there will only be a net increase of 25 public parking spaces -- creating virtually no improvements to the parking woes of downtown Ardmore.

Elizabeth Rogan: I’ve been advised by counsel not to respond since we are in the midst of litigation w/you & the SAC in our roles as elected officials as well as individuals.

4. Many Township residents are experiencing forced densification of their neighborhoods. What are your thoughts about increased density in the Township? Do you see the need for greater density in certain neighborhoods? Please explain fully.

Andrew Karasik: The forced densification of areas of the Township is of grave concern. Lower Merion is bursting at the seams. While new mixed use and commercial development might be encouraged in key target commercial areas, increasing the number or residents and apartments in Lower Merion is irresponsible. Increased density and increased population only leads to higher taxes and a further strain on resources. The residents of Lower Merion choose to live here because we are a suburb, not an urban center. Forced densification seeks to undermine our quality of life and disrespects all the residents seeking a less dense urban alternative.

Elizabeth Rogan: I’ve been advised by counsel not to respond since we are in the midst of litigation w/you & the SAC in our roles as elected officials as well as individuals.

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