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Upper Freehold officials take action to settle affordable housing issue

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UPPER FREEHOLD – To comply with a state mandate that requires them to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing, officials in Upper Freehold Township have designated four zones where affordable housing would be permitted.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market prices to individuals and families whose income meets certain guidelines.

According to municipal officials, Upper Freehold’s affordable housing obligation is four units. The township was initially required to provide 193 affordable housing units, but because there is no sewer infrastructure in the township, the obligation was reduced to four units.

Upper Freehold will seek to satisfy its obligation through a market rate to affordable housing program through which officials will deed restrict current market rate housing and provide the homeowner with money for the deed restriction, according to municipal officials.

The plan, as approved in state Superior Court, calls for the construction of no new market rate housing unless a developer gains access to a public sewer infrastructure system, according to Upper Freehold officials.

On July 11, Township Committee members adopted four ordinances that amend the municipal code and create four affordable housing zoning districts:

• District 1 will include three lots on Old York Road;

• District 2 will include one lot on New Canton-Stone Tavern Road (Route 524) near the intersection with Imlaystown-Hightstown Road;

• District 3 will include one lot on New Canton-Stone Tavern Road (Route 524);

• District 4 will include five lots on Allyson Way.

According to the ordinances, apartments and townhomes will be the principal permitted and required uses in the four affordable housing districts. For-sale housing is specifically prohibited in District 4 on Allyson Way.

Of the three lots on Old York Road in District 1, 11 dwelling units per acre for rental housing and/or six dwelling units per acre for for-sale housing are the maximum densities on a 12-acre lot; 10 dwelling units per acre for rental housing and/or seven dwelling units per acre for for-sale housing are the maximum densities on another lot that is 48 acres; and the third lot, which is 6 acres, will permit 10 dwelling units per acre for rental housing and/or six dwelling units per acre for for-sale housing, according to the ordinance.

Permitted in District 2 and District 3 on Route 524 are maximum densities of 10 dwelling units per acre for rental housing and/or six dwelling units per acre for for-sale housing. The lot size in District 2 is 37 acres and the lot size in District 3 is 11 acres.

In District 4, a maximum density of 10 dwelling units per acre for rental housing only is permitted on Allyson Way, according to the ordinance. The five lots in District 4 are 2 acres, 2 acres, 4 acres, 2 acres and 1 acre.

According to the ordinances, at least 15 percent of all rental units will be set aside for affordable housing in each district. At least 50 percent of the affordable housing units will be affordable to very low and low income households, with a unit being a very low or low income unit if it is the only affordable housing unit created in a project. Of the total number of affordable rental units, at least 13 percent will be affordable to very low income households.

Each ordinance states that no principal townhouse or apartment building in all four affordable housing districts is permitted to exceed 35 feet in height and 2.5 stories.

In addition to the four ordinances which establish the affordable housing zoning districts, committee members adopted an ordinance implementing Upper Freehold’s affordable housing plan, which was created through a settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center, Cherry Hill.

The Fair Share Housing Center advocates for the creation of affordable housing throughout New Jersey.

Municipal officials said on the chance there is sewer infrastructure available in Upper Freehold, the overlay zoning on the four sites in the settlement agreement could generate between 580 and 772 market rate units. The number of units generated would depend upon whether the proposed affordable housing was for sale or for rent.

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