HomeSuburbanSuburban NewsResidents disagree on affordable housing options in Sayreville

Residents disagree on affordable housing options in Sayreville

SAYREVILLE – A plan from borough officials to meet Sayreville’s affordable housing regulations is being met with concerns from residents.

At a Borough Council meeting on June 26, members of the public spoke about four introduced ordinances related to affordable housing.

If adopted, the ordinances will amend the borough’s affordable housing ordinance, add a new section to the borough’s development fee ordinance, permit affordable accessory apartments in the office/services overlay zone and permit inclusionary multi-family dwellings within the borough’s planned residential district option.

The ordinances were not adopted at the meeting and postponed to a later date at the request of Borough Attorney Michael DuPont. According to DuPont, the ordinances needed to be re-noticed before they could be adopted.

Officials did not provide an exact date as to when the ordinances are scheduled for adoption.

Residents were still able to voice their opposition to the plan proposed during the public portion of the meeting, citing potential impacts on the borough’s school district, traffic, taxes, open space and population density, among other issues. While many voiced support of affordable housing, the residents requested the council to oppose Sayreville’s current obligations in court.

Of particular concern to residents was the ordinance related to inclusionary multi-family dwellings, which will allow projects providing affordable housing to be included in their zone.

The projects, according to the ordinance, are Camelot at Sayreville I, which will have 173 units (26 affordable); Camelot at Sayreville II, which will have 300 units (45 affordable); Cross Avenue/National Lead Site, which will have 163 units (24 affordable); and River Road Development Site, which will have 160 units (24 affordable).

Seven hundred and eighty-five affordable units are required in Sayreville, according to Borough Planner John Leoncavallo.

When asked by resident Julie Ott, Leoncavallo said 803 market-rate units with 141 affordable units are planned to be built in the borough. This number did not include The Pointe, an ongoing $2.2 billion retail/mixed-use project.

Camelot at Sayreville I and Camelot at Sayreville II are being developed by Kaplan Properties, which previously developed the Camelot at Townelake apartment complex in Sayreville. According to Leoncavallo, Kaplan President Jason Kaplan was allowed to intervene by the court after the borough went into litigation over its affordable housing.

Councilmen Pat Lembo and Steven Grillo emphasized that the ordinances were required by law.

“A lot of what everyone is objecting to, specifically the Kaplan properties, is a court order we’re under,” Lembo said. “This whole [affordable housing] is a court order we’re under. This is something the court is mandating us to do. Kaplan specifically filed with the court system and his properties are under court order, giving him permission to do that. It’s out of our control.”

“The court ordered the Borough of Sayreville to develop a plan to address the number of affordable units that had not been built over the last 25 years,” Grillo said. “The reality is when you have to build these affordable units, there’s only so much room to build them in. The plan addresses that they have to be built on large lots. Those large lots are owned by development companies that can build affordable units.

“As we’ve discussed in this body, some of those [units] need to be rezoned,” Grillo said. “That’s the reality when you have to build this number of homes.”

Resident Jim Robinson, however, reasoned that there were other methods to meet the affordable housing regulations than what was proposed. Although he spoke in favor of affordable housing, Robinson was concerned about the total amount of units the proposed plan would create.

“When you do inclusionary zoning, what that means is that you build market-rate housing and only 15 percent of it is affordable,” Robinson said. “So for every affordable housing unit you build, you have to build seven market-rate units. If you do 785 and you multiply it by seven, that’s a lot of homes. No judge said we have to do that. What the law says is that we have to have affordable housing.”

Robinson suggested pursuing projects that would only construct affordable units, citing a project in Woodbridge where all 96 units being built were affordable.

Also supporting an alternative to the proposed plan was Michael D’Addio, chairman of the Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Agency (SERA). D’Addio found that other measures than building inclusionary market-rate units to meet the affordable housing obligations were possible.

“SERA owns property by the [Sayreville] Senior Center,” D’Addio said. “We can build and we can bond without putting children in the school, without putting more cars on the road [and] without bringing any extra traffic to our town, or very little extra traffic. If we build on the property by the senior center in the redevelopment zone, we have a lot of leeway. The borough also owns property that they can build on and bond on, just like Woodbridge did.”

Indicating she would not vote in favor of the ordinances was Councilwoman Victoria Kilpatrick, who is a teacher at the Sayreville Middle School. Kilpatrick informed members of the public she opposed changes in the ordinances since she first received them in February.

“I could not believe that we were entering into [with these ordinances] was a COAH [Council on Affordable Housing] agreement that would require us to change density and zoning on properties that we as a council were not fully told the ramifications of,” Kilpatrick said. “I know what we can handle and what we can’t, and what our infrastructure is like. There [is] no way, unless there [is] a significant change to this plan, that I can support this ever.”

Councilwoman Mary Novak shared Kilpatrick’s opposition to the ordinances.

“Unless this is significantly changed, my vote will be no,” Novak said.

Contact Matthew Sockol at msockol@newspapermediagroup.com.

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