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Colts Neck officials address affordable housing mandate

By Peter Elacqua
Staff Writer

COLTS NECK – The state Superior Court is projecting that Colts Neck will need to provide 277 affordable housing units by 2025.

At a recent Township Committee meeting, Committeeman Russell Macnow announced what he said is the municipality’s preliminary affordable housing number. Macnow said the number of units was calculated by court appointed regional master Richard Reading and is subject to negotiation.

“The time frame for the ultimate judicial determination is unknown,” Macnow said. “I understand the ultimate time frame for implementation would be 10 years after the court issues its order.”

On Dec. 15, Colts Neck officials filed a plan to address the community’s affordable housing obligation with Superior Court Judge Jamie Perri.

The Superior Court was given responsibility for and oversight of New Jersey’s affordable housing issues when the state Supreme Court ruled that the state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) was not meeting its mandate to handle the matter.

Tim Anfuso, who is Colts Neck’s zoning officer and municipal planner, said the municipality is applying for a vacant land adjustment and stating it is unable to provide the preliminary number of affordable housing units.

According to the plan, “The township will seek a reduction of its preliminary Round 3 obligation of 277 affordable housing units through a vacant land adjustment per COAH and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules. Due to the lack of vacant developable land for inclusionary development and DEP water quality management rules, a reduction of 265 affordable housing units is requested, resulting in an ‘unmet need’ of 265 units.”

According to the plan, “There are 22 sites that were identified and considered as potentially viable for inclusion in the Realistic Development Potential (RDP) after eliminating sites that were excluded.”

Parcels or portions of parcels that can be excluded include agricultural lands when the development rights to these lands have been purchased or restricted by covenant, environmentally sensitive land, historic and architecturally important sites, active recreational lands, conservation (areas), parklands and open space lands or individual sites that (COAH) determines are not suitable for low- and moderate-income housing.

The plan states there are 22 sites in Colts Neck that meet the 28.5-acre minimum in order to be a site for affordable housing.

“From this list of 22 sites the RDP and resulting vacant land adjustment was calculated for Colts Neck to be 12 units” of affordable housing, the plan said.

Affordable housing is defined by the state as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets regional guidelines. The income categories are defined as very low income, low income and moderate income, and the amounts vary depending on the number of individuals in a family.

Colts Neck’s plan proposes to address the affordable housing issue with projects on Clover Hill Road, Route 18, Cross Street and Route 537.

• The Clover Hill Road development would add eight housing units at market rates and two off-site affordable housing units (one low-income and one moderate-income)

• The Route 18 development would add 26 housing units at market rates and 10 affordable housing units (all very low income)

• The Cross Street development would add nine housing units at market rates and two off-site affordable housing units (one low-income and one moderate-income)

• The Route 537 development would add seven housing units at market rates and one off-site affordable housing unit (moderate-income).

The off-site locations for the affordable housing units have not been determined yet and the developments that will have two affordable housing units must have one affordable housing unit completed before 25 percent of the market rate units are finished and the second affordable housing unit finished before 75 percent of the market rate units are completed.

The totals from those four projects are 50 market rate housing units and 15 affordable housing units, for a total of 65 new housing units in the community.

Anfuso said planner Michael Bolan, who was assigned by the court, is reviewing the plan that has been submitted by the township.

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