SAYREVILLE – Ordinances intended to assist Sayreville in meeting its affordable housing obligations have been recommended to the Borough Council by the Planning Board amid continued concerns from residents over their potential impact.
On Aug. 2, the Planning Board recommended an ordinance to the council that would amend the borough’s affordable housing ordinance and an ordinance permitting projects that include affordable units in their zone. The ordinances are scheduled to be considered by the council on Aug. 21.
The ordinance permitting the affordable housing projects defines the projects as inclusionary multi-family dwellings, which are market-rate housing dwellings that have 15 percent of their units designated as affordable.
On the ordinance to permit inclusionary multi-family dwellings, board Chairman Thomas Tighe, board Vice Chairman Ken Kelly and board members Dennis Bello, Deborah Lee, Anna O’Leary and Daniel Volosin voted “yes.” Board member Michael Macagnone and Councilman Pat Lembo, the council’s liaison on the board, voted “no.”
All members present voted “yes” on the ordinance amending Sayreville’s affordable housing ordinance.
The borough is required to have 785 affordable units. Originally, 1,309 units were required, but the number was reduced as a result of a settlement agreement.
If the inclusionary multi-family dwellings ordinance is adopted, the projects that will be permitted are Camelot at Sayreville I, which will have 173 units (26 affordable), and Camelot at Sayreville II, which will have 300 units (45 affordable).
Both projects are being developed by Kaplan Properties, which filed as an intervener in Sayreville’s litigation over its affordable housing obligations. Board members emphasized that permitting the projects was required by court order and were required to take action on the projects by Aug. 2.
In addition to the Kaplan projects, a previous version of the ordinance included Cross Avenue/National Lead Site, which will have 163 units (24 affordable), and River Road Development Site, which will have 160 units (24 affordable), as projects intended to assist the borough in meeting its obligations. These projects were not in the current version of the ordinance recommended by the board, but are expected to appear in a future ordinance.
Excluding The Pointe, an ongoing $2.2 billion retail/mixed-use project, 803 market-rate units with 141 affordable units are planned to be built in the borough.
Residents who appeared before the board emphasized that they were not opposed to affordable housing, but were concerned with the plan to meet the affordable housing obligations because it would create additional market rate units apart from the required affordable units.
Concerns raised by residents included the projects’ potential impacts on the borough’s school district, traffic, taxes, open space, population density and safety. Many residents noted that population density, traffic and an overcrowded school district were already issues facing Sayreville and the projects would further compound these issues by bringing in more individuals, vehicles and children.
Also an issue with the ordinance permitting the Kaplan projects was possible zoning changes it would create. According to resident Jim Robinson, a former Planning Board chairman, Camelot at Sayreville II will be developed on an open space site that is zoned public, recreational, institutional, municipal and educational as opposed to residential, and has wetlands and wildlife.
Robinson stated that the site where Camelot at Sayreville II was intended to be an extension of Kennedy Park, which the site is adjacent to, and believed that it was not suitable for 300 units.
Macagnone, who also serves on the Sayreville Board of Education, was vocal in his opposition to the ordinance permitting the Kaplan projects.
“I’m not going to support [the ordinance] because I take exception to a judge telling me what I got to build in the town,” Macagnone said. “And that’s because the legislators failed to do their job. The governor comes in and cancels COAH [the Council on Affordable Housing]. And then what are we supposed to do? With no guidance, just start building affordable housing that we may not need?”
Other members acknowledged that they had issues with the ordinance, but were concerned of the potential results of not recommending it to the council. The members reasoned that if the ordinance was not adopted by borough officials, litigation would follow and the ordinance would eventually be adopted by a judge.
“I have a business on Washington Road and I can’t even get people in and out because of the traffic on Washington Road,” Bello said. “On the other hand, if I turn [the ordinance] down, it goes to litigation, it costs our [borough] hundreds of thousands of dollars for legal feels and we’re going to get turned down anyways, [that’s] costing the town more money in the long run. Your taxes are going to go up and you’re probably going to get more people that you don’t want.
“We can be big shots and say no, but they’re going to win,” Bello said. “And it’s going to cost us in the long run.”
Members also emphasized that the parcels designated for the projects were owned by the developers and not permitting the projects could jeopardize the borough’s affordable housing settlement, resulting in more affordable units being required.
Lee argued that the borough could not just rely on projects where all units were affordable because developers would not pursue them and the purpose of affordable housing was to integrate residents of the affordable units with the rest of the residents.
“We can’t tell [developers] to just build affordable housing,” Lee said. “No builder is just going to build affordable housing, they’re not going to make any money on it. Nor do we want to build segmented sections of affordable housing for poor people, that’s not the goal. The goal is to assimilate everyone into the same community.”
Contact Matthew Sockol at email@example.com.