Freehold Township officials settle issue with property owner


FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – A settlement agreement has been reached between Freehold Township municipal officials and the owner of a Route 9 strip mall that will maintain the property’s current commercial use, but include overlay zoning for potential affordable housing at the location.

On June 22, Township Committee members authorized the settlement agreement with Aspen RT 9, LLC, the owner of the Freehold Mall, Route 9 north.

The Freehold Mall (not to be confused with the Freehold Raceway Mall) is commonly known as the shopping center that includes a Burlington store, Terrace Bagels and a Jersey Strong fitness center. Municipal officials have considered using the 25-acre tract for 45 affordable housing units.

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 a resolution, representatives of Aspen RT 9, LLC, objected to their property being rezoned or redeveloped to address the realistic development potential in Freehold Township’s affordable housing plan.

Through negotiations, municipal officials and the property owner agreed to instead treat the Freehold Mall as an unmet need site. That course of action will allow the property’s current use to continue while allowing overlay zoning for potential affordable housing.

The settlement agreement also allows for additional non-residential redevelopment at the Freehold Mall.

Concurrent with the settlement agreement, Township Committee members passed a resolution declaring the strip mall to be an area in need of redevelopment without the use of condemnation.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Freehold Township and Aspen RT 9, LLC, have agreed to provide for the redevelopment of the property’s overall shopping center.

The redevelopment will include the retention of all four freestanding buildings, with the option of removing and replacing the Jersey Strong gym.

There will be an option to relocate a Route 9 turning lane and jughandle northward to facilitate an extension of Trotter’s Way from Route 537 to Route 9.