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Manalapan ordinance would clear way for affordable housing

By Mark Rosman
Staff Writer

MANALAPAN – A public hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 10 on an ordinance that will, if adopted, pave the way for the development of market rate age-restricted housing and affordable housing on a Route 33 parcel.

The ordinance establishing a senior housing overlay zone on the Skeba property in Manalapan’s Special Economic Development (SED) zone on Route 33 was introduced by the Township Committee on July 13.

Mayor Mary Anne Musich and committeemen Jordan Maskowitz, David Kane and Jack McNaboe voted to introduce the ordinance. Deputy Mayor Susan Cohen abstained from the vote.

The introduction of the Skeba ordinance follows recent discussion about properties in Manalapan that could accommodate the development of affordable housing, which is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets state guidelines.

The 100-acre Skeba property is on the westbound side of Route 33 near the Knob Hill housing development and golf course.

Township Attorney Roger McLaughlin provided an overview of the ordinance prior to its introduction. He said if the ordinance is adopted, the Skeba parcel will be included in Manalapan’s affordable housing plan.

When that occurs, a developer will have the option of building an age-restricted community that includes some affordable housing units on the Skeba parcel or donating 14 acres on Route 33 to the township, according to the attorney.

If the developer donates land for an affordable housing project, Manalapan officials will engage the services of an entity which will build a 100 percent affordable housing development at that location, while the initial developer will build an age-restricted community (with no affordable housing units) behind it on the Skeba tract, according to McLaughlin.

George Spodak, a former mayor, characterized the proposed overlay zone as spot zoning. Spodak said he is not opposed to housing for seniors and understands the action is being taken because of the state’s affordable housing mandate.

Spodak asked the committee members to abide by Manalapan’s master plan and not to create an overlay zone, but to change the master plan to reflect the proposed permitted residential use in the SED zone.

Resident Ray Kalainikas asked the committee not to introduce the overlay zone ordinance and to discuss an idea he previously mentioned: 6-acre tracts consisting of 1 acre for a home and 5 acres for agricultural uses.

Kalainikas called the housing projects that are being discussed for the Skeba property “overdevelopment.”

Committeeman David Kane said 6-acre zoning would not be helpful and said the overlay ordinance was only being introduced to help Manalapan meet a state mandated obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing.

In regard to Spodak’s claim about spot zoning, Kane said, “I am not looking to be part of rezoning (land) around town for random reasons. This (overlay ordinance) is being driven by affordable housing concerns.”

McLaughlin said the inclusion of the Skeba property in Manalapan’s affordable housing plan is expected to allow officials to remove a location from the plan that has long been discussed as a possible location for affordable housing.

The tract that could be removed from the affordable housing plan if the overlay zone at the Skeba property is approved is known as the “panhandle” and lies along the rear of a property at Route 33 and Millhurst Road, near the Four Seasons adult community and Cannonero Boulevard.

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