Mayor: Some opposition to housing plan is ‘disgusting,’ ‘anti-Semitic’
Howell Mayor William Gotto says some opposition to a controversial affordable housing project has been "disgusting" and "anti-Semitic," according to a report by New Jersey Advance Media.
The report quotes Gotto's responses to a growing social media backlash against the a 72-unit affordable housing project near Route 9, to be owned by the Rabbinical Seminary of America. The project recently received a preliminary major site plan approval from the township's planning board.
"What I don't get, as a community, the level of discourse that has arisen in a very short period of time with some of the absolutely disgusting, anti-Semitic, racial, class separating comments that I've seen by so many residents of this town, predominantly on social media," Gotto said at a Nov. 9 township council meeting, according to the report.
Among the Facebook pages cited by the report is Howell Happenings NJ. As the report notes, some commenters on the page have just said they worry about the township's population growing quickly, as neighboring Lakewood's has — or say the superstorm Sandy money being used in part to fund the development should help rebuild inland portions of the township hit by the storm. But others specifically cite the Jewish population: "Because they can walk to the new Yeshiva being built on Ridge Road. Talk about dangerous."
A post Monday night on the Howell Happenings NJ page encouraged readers to look back at older posts and comments and judge for themselves.
In a follow-up comment, the page's administrators wrote: "I honestly hope Mayor Gotto doesn't think he can make false accusations on the residents of this town, actually tell us we don't have the right to discuss township issues on social media, and personally slander and falsely call out the character and morals of residents by name and it is just going to be forgotten."