Moorestown is still in “fluid negotiations” regarding the township’s affordable housing requirement.
Despite being tight-lipped regarding the township’s affordable housing negotiations, Moorestown Township Council had one update to provide residents at the Monday, Jan. 22, council meeting. Mayor Stacey Jordan informed those in attendance the township is no longer moving forward with plans to develop the Nagle Tract into a 100 percent affordable housing site.
“One of our litigators, Pennrose, has approached us, has approached the town and has offered an alternative site that allows us to no longer seek 100 percent on Nagle,” she said.
Council could not provide further information regarding the location of the new site due to ongoing litigation. Following the Council On Affordable Housing’s disbanding, towns have to petition the court for approval of their affordable housing plans. In 2005, Moorestown filed a declaratory judgment action with the superior court of Burlington County, and the number of units Moorestown will be required to provide is in dispute.
The update came on the heels of a resolution rejecting all submissions in response to the township’s Request for Qualifications. In October, the township received 12 responses to the RFQ to build and maintain an affordable housing development at the Nagle Tract.
Resident David Greenbaum inquired what would become of the Nagle Tract following the news.
“We’re still in that fluid negotiation with what’s going on, so I can’t tell you exactly, but we can tell you we’re not going to do 100 percent affordable,” Jordan said in response.
Resident Kathy Sutherland said she was opposed to the resolution. She said the township purchased the tract in the 1980s with the intention of solely developing affordable housing on the site.
“This site was purchased originally for low- and [moderate-income] housing, and I think that’s all that should go there,” Sutherland said.
Deputy Mayor Manuel Delgado clarified that although the tract will no longer be 100 percent affordable housing, the township has not ruled it out as one of its potential sites. Delgado said in the past the township has successfully mixed affordable housing throughout the town.
“Part of the goal that we’re doing now is figuring out how you make that equitable throughout the entire neighborhood. Removing this does not do that,” Delgado said. “I think if anything it ensures that what we do does not stigmatize a site, so that if kids are going to a site or anything else it isn’t always looked at as that low-income site.”
Jordan said the Nagle Tract will be included in the township’s affordable housing plan as an inclusionary site — meaning low-, moderate- and standard-income housing will be interspersed.
Sutherland said as of now, there is no affordable housing east of Westfield Road. She said meanwhile, west of Westfield, there are more than 1,000 low- and moderate-income homes.
“We have our fair share, and they are certainly peppered throughout the community and they blend very well,” Sutherland said. “There’s no reason that it can’t be spread throughout the community.”
Councilman Michael Locatell said council’s intention is to ensure the housing is spread throughout town. He said there will be presentations and opportunities for public input prior to any action.
“This will be brought out for public view before it’s finalized,” Locatell said.
Jordan took the opportunity to apologize that council had to cancel the special meeting providing updates on the township’s affordable housing requirement, which was tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 17.
“In my haste to be transparent and let people know what’s going on with the COAH housing situation we have, we were trying to get a meeting together,” Jordan said. “Unfortunately, I did not realize our planner was not available, and she was the most important part of that discussion.”
Jordan said she anticipates the meeting will take place sometime in February.
She said the negotiations are “fluid” and constantly changing. She said council received new information even two hours prior to Monday’s meeting.
“We really are trying to be transparent and make sure we get that information out to you,” Jordan said.
The next meeting of Moorestown Township Council will take place on Monday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.