Jackson zoners approve single-family homes, affordable apartments


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JACKSON – The Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved an application that will result in the construction of market rate single-family homes and affordable housing units on property at Whitesville Road and East Veterans Highway.

An application filed by Swanborne, LLC, was approved on April 18. Swanborne was represented by attorney John Giunco, traffic engineer John Rea, economic analyst Richard Reading and engineer Ian Borden.

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Swanborne sought municipal approval to develop a 158-acre parcel at 980 East Veterans Highway with single-family homes and buildings that would contain affordable housing apartments. An existing home will remain on the property and the parcel will include four storm water lots and open space, according to the application.

The property is bounded by three Ocean County roads: East Veterans Highway (Route 528), South Hope Chapel Road (Route 547) and Whitesville Road (Route 527).

The application proposed the construction of 185 single-family homes to be sold at market rates and 46 units of affordable housing to be rented at below market rates in accordance with affordable housing regulations. The apartments are proposed to be constructed in six two-story buildings that will contain six or eight apartments.

The applicant was seeking a use variance to construct multi-family affordable housing buildings containing as many as eight units where a Jackson ordinance permits four units per building.

Giunco said an ordinance that was recently adopted by the Township Council brought much of the Swanborne application into compliance with municipal regulations.

Borden said that “as a result (of the ordinance’s adoption), the 12,000-square-foot lots and the density we are proposing are now permitted by ordinance.” He said the affordable housing units are also permitted by the ordinance.

“We have 185 market rate units and 46 affordable units. The 46 affordable units are in six attached dwellings in the southern part of the project,” Borden said.

According to the applicant’s economic analyst, the market rate homes will be priced at about $600,000.

The board’s chairman, Stephen Costanzo, asked Borden what the developer’s mindset was regarding the placement of the affordable housing.

Borden said the idea was to cluster the affordable units in one location.

“As far as location goes, the location is not something that is driven by any particular site constraint or design methodology, it could be changed,” he said.

Board member Carl Book Jr. said he was “struggling with the affordable unit structure” the applicant proposed.

“The ink is barely dry on (the ordinance) which allows for four units (per building) … and I am sitting here thinking, wow, we have a brand new ordinance and we already want to re-write the ordinance,” Book said. “How are you justifying going from four to six to eight units?”

Giunco referred Book to previous testimony regarding the affordable units. Swanborne’s affordable housing expert and planner, Arthur Bernard, provided testimony in January before the ordinance took effect about the specifics of the affordable units, as well as their importance.

Bernard said it is important to note that low- and moderate-income households make up about 40 percent of all households in New Jersey.

“Many of us have been low- and moderate-income households, we have friends who are low- and moderate-income households, they are starting teachers, nurses, social workers, paralegals and firefighters. They include our kids who are starting out and older people on fixed incomes,” Bernard said.

During public comment on April 18, resident Jim Bezanson asked if there could be a requirement for the development to have larger driveways and/or two-car garages “to maybe mitigate some of the street parking that would inhibit emergency vehicles and access for school buses.”

Borden said the applicant is required to provide 3.5 parking spaces per market rate unit and has proposed providing four parking spaces for each market rate unit.

Board member Kathryn McIlhinney expressed concern with the idea of the market rate homes needing four parking spaces.

“We are talking about four- and five-bedroom homes and I am assuming two to three children is reasonable, and Mr. Borden testified that each of the single-family units will have up to four (parking) spaces, so we are not talking about 300 or 400 cars. We could have as many as 800 (vehicles) and I am really concerned about the surrounding areas and what they are going to have to contend with as far as traffic and impact,” McIlhinney said.

Board members expressed concern about the density and impact of the 185 single-family homes the developer plans to construct.

After testimony and public comment concluded, Book made a motion to approve the application and grant the variance for the number of affordable housing units in a building.

McIlhinney said she did not “feel comfortable doing this, but it seems that legally we are bound to do this.” She said she was voting yes “reluctantly.”

Board member Scott Najarian said, “I guess I have to say yes,” and board member John Suttles said he wanted to vote no “so bad” that he “could taste it.”

On roll call, McIlhinney, Costanzo, Book, Suttles, Najarian, Alexander Sauickie and Vice Chairman Sheldon Hofstein voted “yes” to approve the Swanborne application.

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