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HOPEWELL: Officials voice their support for proposed affordable housing limits

Hopewell Township Committee has come out squarely behind proposed legislation that seeks to limit the impact of state-mandated affordable housing obligations – in the township and across the state.

The committee passed a resolution at its April 23 meeting in support of two bills – one in the General Assembly and one in the state Senate – that would establish specific factors to be used in calculating the municipal adjustment for a municipality’s fair share affordable housing obligation.

The “specific factors” include the town’s population, its water and sewerage capacity, the impact on school class sizes and school services, and public safety and public transportation in the town.

The two bills also would cap the number of units that a town may have allocated as its affordable housing obligation with regard to the size of the town’s population, according to the resolution.

“The bills’ population cap would protect those municipalities that may face dramatic municipal population increases if mandated to add a large amount of additional affordable housing. We must reach a solution to affordable housing in New Jersey,” the resolution states.

There is public water and sewer in parts of the township, which has a population of approximately 17,000 people. Residents in some parts of the township rely on septic systems for sewage and private wells for water.

In its settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Council – which sued Hopewell Township and many towns across the state – the township must provide 653 units of affordable housing for very low-, low- and moderate-income households.

The solution is for a developer to build a large housing development that includes affordable housing units, usually at a 4 to 1 ratio – four market rate units for every affordable unit. This could result in construction of as many as 3,000 new housing units in Hopewell Township, including the affordable housing units.

Mayor Kevin Kuchinski said the proposed legislation is an attempt to begin a dialogue regarding affordable housing obligations for Hopewell Township and other towns in New Jersey. After the state Council on Affordable Housing broke down, he said, the courts stepped in.

“We have been challenging the State Legislature to take back control of the process of creating affordable housing. We think it makes sense,” Kuchinski said.

“The pace of change should not happen at a rate in conflict with the infrastructure and a town’s ability to absorb growth. Development should be consistent with the character of the community,” Kuchinski said.

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