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Manalapan officials create three zones for affordable housing

MANALAPAN – The Township Committee has adopted three ordinances that officials said will help Manalapan meet its obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing in the community.

The ordinances were adopted during the committee’s July 8 meeting.

The passage of the local legislation relates to Manalapan’s settlement of affordable housing issues with the Fair Share Housing Center, Cherry Hill, which advocates for the construction of affordable housing throughout New Jersey.

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

Prior to the public hearing on the ordinances, Township Attorney Roger McLaughlin made the following points to help residents understand the process:

• Any development that is proposed following the adoption of these three ordinances will be subject to a review by and a public hearing before the Manalapan Planning Board;

• All three ordinances are part of Manalapan’s affordable housing compliance plan;

• Manalapan is required by a court order to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing in the community;

• Township officials did not select the properties that are identified in the three ordinances as sites for affordable housing. Developers identified properties where they wanted to construct homes and brought those properties to township officials for consideration during the affordable housing litigation process.

Attorney Andrew Bayer, who represents Manalapan on affordable housing issues, said the locations identified in the ordinances and the proposed developments were the subject of court hearings, and were approved by the court.

Two ordinances were adopted without any comments from residents.

Ordinance 2020-13 establishes an affordable housing overlay zone on Franklin Lane, off Route 9 between Taylors Mills and Gordons Corner roads, and provides for multi-family housing with an inclusionary set-aside of affordable housing.

The ordinance will allow for the construction of up to 117 market rate housing units and 51 affordable housing units that would be available to low, very low and moderate income households.

The ordinance was proposed as part of a developer’s agreement between Sea-Franklin Associates Inc. and Manalapan, according to the ordinance.

Ordinance 2020-15 establishes an affordable housing overlay zone on a 24-acre property on Route 33, just west of the entrance to the Knob Hill residential community and golf course.

The adoption of the ordinance by the Township Committee will allow American Properties at Manalapan, LLC, to pursue the construction of an inclusionary residential development and up to 19,000 square feet of commercial space on the property, according to the ordinance.

The residential portion would include up to 100 market rate for sale single-family homes and 29 affordable for sale multi-family housing units.

Ordinance 2020-14 proposed the establishment of an affordable housing overlay zone on Millhurst and Woodward roads and provides for multi-family housing with an inclusionary set-aside of age-restricted affordable housing.

Woodward Estates is the owner of the four lots that are addressed in the ordinance.

The principals of Woodward Estates have proposed constructing 130 for sale residential market rate townhomes (amended on July 8 from four bedrooms or less to three bedrooms or less) and 55 multi-family, age-restricted for rent affordable apartments (one, two and three bedrooms) on the four lots identified in the ordinance.

During public comment, Ryan Silsbe of Gold Court, a street off Millhurst Road, said of the overlay zone, “This appears to be spot zoning in an agricultural zone. It has been selected to be rezoned for high density housing. We are prepared to bring suit that this is spot zoning. We ask that you not move forward with approval of this ordinance.”

Regarding the density of the project, Jennifer Beahm, who is Manalapan’s planner, said the density proposed by Woodward Estates would be two homes per acre, which she said is not high density for the property.

Bayer said the location that has been proposed for Woodward Estates “was the subject of a court hearing. The court found the site met the criteria and standards for affordable housing and that the property is developable as proposed. This is not spot zoning in terms of a legal sense and there is case law on that, and we have been ordered by a court to do it.”

McLaughlin said there are environmental issues on the Woodward Estates property. He said “the developer has the burden of complying with state environmental standards in order to move forward. This development may never happen.”

Beahm said the developer proposing Woodward Estates has been working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to address the environmental issues.

Mayor Jack McNaboe said the property where Woodward Estates is being proposed came into play after plans for a site where municipal officials wanted affordable housing to be built – the Manalapan Manor residential healthcare facility on Route 33 – did not materialize after the owner did not comply with an agreement with the township.

Following the public hearing, committee members adopted Ordinance 2020-14.

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