HomeMoorestown NewsCouncil takes first steps toward implementing affordable housing plan

Council takes first steps toward implementing affordable housing plan

At Monday’s meeting, Moorestown Township council passed an ordinance rezoning 160 W. Route 38 for affordable housing units.

An ordinance rezoning the lot located at 160 W. Route 38, colloquially known as the Pennrose Property, as an affordable multifamily district passed on first reading at last Monday night’s meeting of Moorestown Township Council. The ordinance was the first in what will be a series of rezonings as the township takes steps toward implementing its affordable housing plan.

“The ordinance is specifically intended to rezone the property to permit multifamily affordable housing as specified in the settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing Center,” said the township’s Affordable Housing Planner Beth McManus.

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The ordinance will go before the planning board on May 3 before returning to council for a public hearing on May 7. Councilman Michael Locatell said everyone in the affected area will receive proper notice of the meeting.

“Everybody that’s 200 feet from that zone line, so that would be across the highway, 38, Wagon Bridge [Run] into Mount Laurel — if you could draw a 200-foot circle around that [zone], that’s the people that would be notified for this event,” Locatell said.

Councilwoman Lisa Petriello suggested adding an affordable housing designation to the ordinance, so that residents can know by looking at any related documents that this lot is part of the affordable housing. Council agreed and updated the name of the ordinance accordingly to “affordable multi-family residence 1 district.”

Resident Carol Radmoski questioned how council could pass the ordinance when a deed restriction is still in place that limits development on the property.

“Really, I feel this is very premature,” Radmoski said. “The reason being there’s still a restrictive covenant that needs to be dealt with and is in place.”

Locatell explained that McManus will be writing separate ordinances for each of the five new affordable housing zones.

“Each site will have a uniqueness that will require an independent ordinance for that zone,” Locatell said.

He said the ordinance is specifically tailored to the township’s affordable housing plan that calls for 75 multi-family affordable housing units on the site. He said if for any reason Pennrose is unable to invalidate the restrictive covenant, another developer cannot just come in and build on the site.

“If for any reason that doesn’t come about, that’s basically an obsolete zone at that point,” Locatell said.

Radmoski inquired what would happen if 20 percent or more of the residents in the affected 200-foot radius sign a letter of protest.

Township attorney Kelly Grant said, according to New Jersey’s municipal land-use laws, if such a protest is filed with the municipal clerk, any amendment or revision to the ordinance can only be passed by the governing body.

Petriello inquired what a resident attending the May 3 planning board meeting could expect.

Locatell said the Pennrose property will be treated like an application in the standard sense. He said the May 3 meeting is essentially a “cursory review” to make sure the application is consistent with the master plan at which point the planning board will push the ordinance back to council for a public hearing.

He said while the planning board certainly welcomes public comments, there will be a limit as to what it can do with the testimony. Radmoski asked what residents who are unable to attend can do to voice their opposition, to which Township Manager Thomas Merchel said those residents can send an email to town council.

Township Clerk Patricia Hunt said should the planning board need to continue its discussion of the application, the public hearing of the ordinance will be pushed back.

Both the May 3 and May 7 meetings will take place in Council Chambers in Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.


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