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Camp Kilmer eyed for more affordable housing

By Jacqueline Durett

EDISON—The township is preparing for the possibility of being required to add more affordable housing units by looking again to a site that’s already been useful for that purpose: Camp Kilmer.

The Department of Defense closed Camp Kilmer on Nov. 9, 2005, and a year later, the township became the Local Redevelopment Authority for the site. Last year, Kilmer Homes, an affordable housing complex, opened on part of the Camp Kilmer site.

For a few years, another portion of the site had been under consideration by the Board of Education for the possible construction of a new school, but those plans have been shelved, and according to the township, the board has rescinded its application to use the site.

At the Jan. 25 Township Council meeting, the council approved a resolution to use one of the buildings on the property for affordable and housing for homeless veterans and other eligible applicants.

A similar action was taken at the Dec. 21, 2015, meeting, but the township has opted to focus on Building 1065 instead of 1066. According to the new resolution, “Building 1066 is better suited for passive recreational use for the community, and Building 1065 presents a more suitable site for development of affordable housing for Veterans and other eligible applicants.”

“We’re trying to create a focused program that would identify low- and moderate-income households that include veterans as a preference for that site to create more of a housing campus in a recreational setting,” said Jong Sook Nee, in response to questions on the topic from resident Lois Wolke.

Wolke asked about the condition of the building and the amount of work it would need to be used.

Nee said the township is considering putting out a request for proposals regarding the site, with the intent that the township would not have to pay for those rehabilitation costs.

“The hope is that a developer will do it tied together with any financial incentives that are available under both state and federal laws for affordable housing,” she said.

Wolke also questioned why the township needed additional affordable housing at all.

“The township is actually in the process of preparing an updated affordable housing plan,” said Mark Kataryniak, township engineer, explaining that the broader issue of municipalities’ affordable housing responsibility is currently before the courts. The township has to prepare for the possibility more housing may be required.

“And the Camp Kilmer site made the most sense in terms of its proximity to the other existing housing that we have,” he said.

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