Freehold Township officials plan to take action on affordable housing

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Possible action on a proposed ordinance that will help Freehold Township meet its obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing has been scheduled for June 16.

Township Committee members held a special meeting on April 27 to discuss the township’s affordable housing situation. No action was taken during that meeting.

The obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing has been mandated by New Jersey’s courts, which determined the former New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing was not enforcing regulations to create affordable housing, which the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled must be constructed throughout the state.

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 municipal officials, Freehold Township’s obligation is 878 affordable housing units. The number is the result of a settlement agreement in state Superior Court that lowered the township’s obligation from 1,509 units to 878 units.

One item before officials was a public hearing and the potential adoption of an ordinance that will, if adopted, amend the affordable housing requirements of the township’s land use ordinance.

The amendments in the proposed ordinance will allow for the development of proposed projects that will assist Freehold Township in meeting the 878-unit obligation. Currently, the township has 575 units.

Other items before the Township Committee were resolutions that will set forth the reasons for the ordinance’s adoption, not withstanding the Planning Board’s report of inconsistency with Freehold Township’s master plan; appoint Todd Brown as municipal housing liaison; adopt an affirmative marketing plan of affordable units; and other actions.

According to municipal officials, three entities are interested in developing affordable housing in Freehold Township at the following locations:

• Land Bank, LLC plans to develop 23 units at a 50-acre parcel on Route 9 South (south of Three Brooks Road);

• K. Hovnanian plans to develop 12 units at a 23-acre parcel on Three Brooks Road (east of Halls Mill Road);

• M&M Macerich Corp plans to develop 200 units at a 72-acre parcel between Route 9 and Route 537 (across from the Trotters Way entrance to the Freehold Raceway Mall).

Three additional parcels have been identified by municipal officials to provide affordable housing:

• 34 units are planned to be developed on the Brock Farms property at the corner of Route 537 and Siloam Road;

• 45 units are planned to be developed at the Freehold Mall strip mall (not to be confused with the Freehold Raceway Mall) on Route 9 North;

• 60 units are planned to be developed through an expansion of the Chesterfield apartment complex on Route 537, east of Freehold Borough.

Through these six projects, Freehold Township officials said they would meet the 878-unit obligation by having a total of 902 affordable housing credits.

As a result of the settlement agreement, municipal officials must also designate three overlay zones for future affordable housing on Route 9 properties that are currently developed.

The three overlay zones will be 10.6 acres at the Chadwick Square strip mall and adjacent parcels on Route 9 North; 7 acres at the Bank of America building on Route 9 South (adjacent to the Brookdale Community College Freehold Campus); and a Red Roof Inn and 7 acres at an abandoned Verizon building on Route 9 North, according to municipal officials.

The overlay zones will permit 12 units per acre, with the permitted use as mixed use commercial and residential, and the commercial component not required.

Any residential developments constructed in the overlay zones will be required to have 20% of the units that are available for purchase and 15% of the units that are available for rent designated as affordable housing.

During the April 27 meeting, members of the Township Committee said the settlement agreement required them to discuss the affordable housing obligation and their planned actions to help them meet the obligation.

However, they determined any action they might take on the matter should be moved to a later date with increased public participation.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the April 27 meeting was conducted on a teleconference and members of the public were not able to attend the meeting in person.

Citing a need for the public to be heard on the issue, officials moved the public hearing on the proposed ordinance to a special meeting on June 16 when residents may be able to attend if public gatherings are permitted. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal building and the Township Committee may adopt the ordinance that evening.