Manalapan officials set to vote on Route 33 affordable housing zone


MANALAPAN – Market rate housing and affordable housing would be permitted to be constructed at a location in Manalapan under the terms of an ordinance that is expected to be considered for adoption at the May 27 meeting of the Township Committee.

During a meeting on May 13, committee members conducted a public hearing on an ordinance that proposes to establish an affordable housing overlay zone on a 57-acre parcel in Manalapan’s SED-2W (special economic development) and R-AG/4 (agricultural) zone on Route 33.

The creation of the overlay zone means guidelines will be established that will permit the construction of multi-family housing with an inclusionary set-aside of affordable housing, according to the ordinance.

After hearing from several members of the public, committee members closed the public hearing, but did not vote on the ordinance. Action on the ordinance was carried to the governing body’s May 27 meeting.

Township Attorney Roger McLaughlin said the property where the overlay zone is proposed is at Route 33 and Iron Ore Road. He said the property is owned by the Diocese of Trenton and that Toll Brothers has submitted a concept plan for a residential development there.

McLaughlin said the proposed zoning would allow the construction of up to 320 housing units, with a 30% set-aside for affordable housing (96 units), at the Route 33 and Iron Ore Road location.

An inclusionary development means the affordable housing (96 rental units) and market rate housing (224 townhouses), if such a development is eventually approved, would share the property.

Any plan that proposes development at the site in question would be subject to review by the Manalapan Planning Board. Residents would be able to comment on the plan during a public hearing before the board, McLaughlin said.

Individuals who own property within 200 feet of the affordable housing overlay zone that is being proposed will receive a notice if and when a development application is scheduled for a hearing before the Planning Board.

Mayor Jack McNaboe said a development plan for the Route 33 and Iron Ore Road property could come before the Planning Board in late 2020 or in 2021.

Resident Richard Concato of La Valley Drive addressed the Township Committee members and municipal professionals during the public hearing on the ordinance.

He asked for an explanation of New Jersey’s affordable housing situation, which McLaughlin and Township Planner Jennifer Beahm provided.

McLaughlin and Beahm said Manalapan, like other municipalities in New Jersey, is under a court order to provide opportunities for the construction of affordable housing within its borders.

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

Manalapan has a court-approved affordable housing settlement agreement which identifies the Diocese of Trenton property as a location for affordable housing in the community, McLaughlin said.

The attorney said the Planning Board has found the proposed ordinance to be substantially consistent with Manalapan’s master plan, which is the document that outlines how the township will be developed.

“Will this (residential development) be jammed down our throats?” Concato asked municipal officials.

“Affordable housing is a mandate being imposed on us by the state Supreme Court,” Beahm said.

“We like living in the woods and that is being taken away from us. I don’t want it (residential development). No one on La Valley Drive wants it,” Concato said.

McLaughlin and Beahm explained that the development of affordable housing was initially under the purview of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).

When COAH failed to promulgate and enforce regulations related to the development of affordable housing, the matter came under the jurisdiction of New Jersey’s court system, which has mandated compliance with previous court rulings, they said.