Hillsborough officials to continue public hearing on ordinance that would allow housing development in industrial zones

Courtesy photo

A public hearing for an ordinance that proposes to amend a land use and development law was adjourned to the next Hillsborough Township Committee meeting.

The decision to continue this hearing until the meeting or to hold a special meeting was voted for approval by the committee at a Nov. 12 meeting.

Ordinance 2019­-20, which proposes to amend a land use and development law to allow multifamily inclusionary overlay districts in I­-1, I­-2 and I­-3 light industrial districts, was scheduled to be heard at the November meeting, but a motion to continue the hearing to Dec. 10 or host a potential special meeting was made and approved by the committee.

If approved, the ordinance would be aimed to assist the municipality meet its affordable housing obligation by allowing multifamily overlay districts on land parcels originally zoned for light industry.

According to the ordinance, which was introduced at a Sept. 24 committee meeting, the purpose of the overlay district is to provide an incentive for the construction of affordable multifamily housing in the I-3 district.

Municipal officials reported that the standards are intended to offer maximum flexibility for site design and selection of dwelling unit types in order to offer a balanced housing pattern attractive to all income and age segments of the community as part of the township’s fair share housing plan for meeting the region’s low and moderate-income housing needs.

At the November meeting, Hillsborough Township Mayor Frank DelCore explained that the decision to continue this hearing was to conduct additional review into the matter and see what can be done to address various concerns voiced by residents in previous meetings.

“We are looking for additional time to continue to investigate certain options that we are looking at as it relates to affordable housing on this property and as it relates to our plan,” DelCore said. “One of the things that we will be doing is looking to continue this [hearing], so we still have a bit of time until our court dates are realized.

“In the event that we should need a special meeting because of the timing of some of certain affordable housing circumstances, I’d like a motion that the mayor and the clerk to call for that special meeting, should it be necessary … We know the sensitivity of this matter for many [residents]. We took their comments seriously, and we are trying to see what we can do here,” DelCore said.

Officials explained that the ordinance would permit the construction of a multifamily residential development that would be capped at 96 total units, 23 of which (24% of the units) would be aimed to meet affordable housing standards.

Some of the requirements in the overlay district would include a minimum lot size of 13 acres; a maximum impervious surface coverage limited to 30% of the entire tract; a maximum building height of 45 feet (or three stories); no less than 40% of the tract must be devoted to open space and conservation areas; and there will be a minimum buffer requirement of 100 feet from any residential district.

Permitted accessory uses in the overlay district would include garages, storage sheds, maintenance offices, property management offices, and non-commercial community, as well as recreational facilities associated with residential communities and other uses customarily incidental or accessory to a multifamily residential community.

Required open space may include natural areas such as forests, fields, flood hazard areas, watercourses, water bodies, stream corridors, wetland areas, wetland buffer areas and detention basins. No land disturbance, improvements, structures, and/or installations of any kind shall be permitted within the required open space.

Although multiple residents and local groups at previous meeting raised concerns with potential development on the site in regards to traffic, stormwater runoff and access to Route 206 in proximity to the site, DelCore explained in the past that the ordinance does not directly handle any issues in regards to preliminary and final site plans nor how that would affect nearby residents or businesses.

Officials said that site plans that would propose development on the properties addressed in the ordinance would have to come before the Hillsborough Township Planning Board first for a formal review and public hearing.

The public hearing for this ordinance is scheduled for Dec. 10 at Hillsborough Township Municipal Complex’s Peter J. Biondi Building, which is located on 379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough.

The special meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.