Millstone officials provide details about plan for affordable housing

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MILLSTONE – As part of a plan to comply with an affordable housing obligation in Millstone Township, a residential development consisting of 242 units, 48 of which will be designated as affordable housing, is planned for a site near Etra-Perrineville Road (Route 571) and Perrineville Road (Route 1).

During an Oct. 3 meeting of the Township Committee, municipal officials presented members of the public with information about Millstone Township’s state mandated obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing in the community.

The plan includes a development to be proposed by Baldachino Properties that will include market rate homes and affordable housing units. The development will be at 711 Perrineville Road, near Route 571 and the border of East Windsor.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets certain guidelines. According to township officials, Millstone’s obligation is 231 affordable housing units.

Baldachino Properties’ development will provide 48 affordable housing units and receive 44 bonus credits, for a total of 92 affordable housing credits. In conjunction with other affordable housing projects, officials said Millstone would meet its 231 affordable housing units obligation.

Municipal officials said Millstone Township’s previously approved affordable housing developments only provide affordable housing units.

Fred Heyer, the township’s planner, said officials have sought to avoid approving inclusionary projects that have affordable housing units and market rate units at the same location, but he said Millstone had a shortfall of 48 affordable housing units after the 100% affordable housing projects were established.

“What Millstone has been able to do (with affordable housing) is in a class by itself,” Heyer said. “Millstone’s process has avoided market rate units as best as possible. Five projects are being done by the Affordable Housing Alliance, which is a nonprofit organization. I have never seen a nonprofit do five (affordable housing projects) in the same town.”

Heyer said 20% of the homes in the Baldachino development would be designated as affordable housing. He said in most cases, only 15% of the homes in an inclusionary development are designated as affordable housing.

The Baldachino development will be presented to the Millstone Township Planning Board at a future date. Residents will have the opportunity to comment on the plans and to ask questions about the developer’s proposal during a public hearing before the board.

Municipal officials said a second inclusionary housing project was proposed by the owner of the former Showplace Farms, Route 33, which filed as an intervenor in Millstone’s affordable housing litigation.

Showplace Farms owner Howard Schoor previously sought to have Toll Brothers develop a residential project on Route 33 which would have had 455 market rate homes and 114 affordable housing units, according to municipal officials.

Toll Brothers would have sought approval to bring public water and sewer to that location. However, the housing project at Showplace Farms will not occur in the wake of Baldachino Properties’ proposed development on Perrineville Road, according to township officials.

Officials said Schoor no longer intends to develop homes on Route 33. Instead, they said he would pursue a warehouse project that would generate $1.9 million in affordable housing fees (but no homes) and add revenue to the township’s tax base.

During public comment, residents spoke about the potential impact a 242-home development could have on traffic and the Millstone Township K-8 School District.

“You are going to need to put in traffic lights, you are going to need to put in infrastructure,” Kathleen Carroll said.

Attorney Michael Steib, who represents the Planning Board and represents Millstone on issues related to affordable housing, said because Route 571 is a county road, Monmouth County representatives would examine the traffic impact of a proposed housing development.

Township Committeeman Michael Kuczinski said a traffic study would be part of the application process for the Baldachino development during Planning Board hearings.

Millstone Township Superintendent of Schools Christopher Huss said no official study had been completed as of Oct. 3, but he said the impact of a potential housing development would be part of the district’s annual budget discussions.

Although Huss said there is room in the school district for additional students, he said it is not known at what grade levels new students would enter the district. Huss said the district could absorb new students without hiring new staff and he said an increase in enrollment could lead to an increase in state aid.

Tara Zabrosky, who is a member of the Millstone Township Environmental Commission, raised concerns about the impact of development on the environment. Steib said the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection would provide oversight regarding that issue.

The possibility of a warehouse being constructed at the Showplace Farms property on Route 33 led Ron Schlegel to express concern about the amount of truck traffic such a development could produce.

“We might as well move to other areas with this kind of traffic,” Schlegel said.

Deputy Mayor Nancy Grbelja said warehouses space was the best viable option for Millstone Township after officials were unable to preserve the site. She said a warehouse would not bring additional homes or public water and sewer utilities to the municipality.

“We tried our best to preserve that (Showplace Farms) property, nut we could not run the risk of opening our town to more (housing) units and utilities. So we limited things the best we could and protected our town the best we could. We have an (affordable housing) obligation and we can’t sacrifice our entire town and lose everything because we did not comply,” Grbelja said

Kuczinski said because of Millstone’s neighboring municipalities, a traffic impact on Route 33 is inevitable.

“We are going to get impacted whether we like it or not,” he said. “This (proposed warehouse project) has the least impact.”