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Hillsborough officials introduce ordinance to amend zoning for potential development

An ordinance that proposes to rezone property in order to allow potential construction for residential living and affordable units is planned to come before the Hillsborough Township Committee for a vote on March 24.

The Hillsborough Township Committee introduced an ordinance at a Feb. 25 meeting that proposes to amend the township code in order to rezone the former Glen Gery quarry, located between Hamilton and Falcon roads, from a mining and corporate development zone to R8A (Residential 8A).

A public hearing and vote to accept or deny the ordinance will come before the Township Committee on March 24.

Hillsborough Township Committee meetings are held in the Peter J. Biondi Building, which is located at 379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough.

Township Deputy Mayor Shawn Lipani said at the February meeting that the ordinance, if approved, would allow the construction of single-family affordable housing units to assist the municipality in meeting its affordable housing obligation.

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

“The new residential district would permit the construction of up to 380 single-family homes on 8,000 square foot lots,” Lipani said. “The district will include an affordable housing obligation of 88 units, which are to be constructed offsite in accordance with the court-sanctioned summit between Hillsborough Township and M&M Realty Partners, LLC.”

The introduction of this ordinance comes off the heels of recent legislative actions taken from the Township Committee and Planning Board. In December 2019, the Township Committee unanimously made a motion to approve and passed an ordinance to amend Chapter 188 “Land Use and Development,” “Districts & Standards,” Section 188­106 “I­1, I­2, I­3 Light Industrial Districts” of the township code.

Officials said the standards set forth in the ordinance 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.

Although this particular ordinance was introduced in September 2019, various concerns with the potential development of these properties raised by residents caused officials to take additional time to review steps that could possibly present a potential strategy to stymie the effects of development in these areas.

Then Hillsborough Township Mayor, Frank DelCore, said at the meeting that the municipality made an effort to look into alternative efforts to potentially reduce the impacts of this ordinance, the municipality received an order to pass this ordinance in risk of potential builder’s remedy lawsuits.

In July 2019, the Planning Board approved the first phase of the Sherman Tract Redevelopment Plan for an affordable housing development to be built near Concord Avenue and Estelle Street.

The decision from the Hillsborough planners came after an initial July 2019 public hearing on the application, which included extensive testimony from the applicant’s professionals of RPM Development, LLC, as well as a lengthy public comment period that influenced the board to extend the hearing to its July 25 meeting.

According to RPM’s application, the developer sought preliminary and final approval for a major subdivision; preliminary and final major site plan approval; a bulk variance; and waivers to subdivide approximately 62 acres into two lots and develop a proposed lot to construct a multi-family residential development.

The proposed development consists of 13 two-story buildings, a clubhouse building and associated stormwater management, parking and improvements in accord with the Sherman Redevelopment Plan.

The developer’s professionals said their plans call for the first part of proposed construction on the parcel, which encompasses approximately 31 acres, would include 88 rental housing units of which 87 units will be affordable family rental housing units, with one market-rate unit to be occupied by the on-site property manager in the 13 two-story townhouses.

The property is in a rehabilitation area to which the redevelopment plan refers. Officials explained there is a 65-acre tract that was purchased by the township in 2018 for the construction of affordable housing in an effort to meet Hillsborough’s court-imposed affordable housing obligation.

Before the Township Committee opened the ordinance up for public comment at the February meeting, Lipani explained the reasoning to introduce it. The Hillsborough official noted that the ordinance, if approved, is not a formal decision for any development or construction to take place at this time.

“This is the same type of procedure we do when we take a project that can be designated for affordable housing,” he said. “We need to change the zone in order to allow the affordable housing project to be built. This is not the approval of any housing project. This still has to go through the Planning Board and meet all of the approvals.

“This is strictly changing the zoning of the property to allow for the potential of an affordable housing site to be utilized on this property,” Lipani said.

 

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