Moorestown determines affordable housing set asides for future development

Any future multifamily development must have a 20 percent set aside for units for sale and 15 percent set aside for rental properties.

Any approved multifamily development coming to Moorestown will have to set aside a portion for affordable housing. At their most recent meeting, Moorestown Township Council passed an ordinance on second reading requiring 20 percent set aside for units for sale and 15 percent set aside for rental properties.

Councilman Michael Locatell clarified that the ordinance is not in regard to the Pennrose site or any of the other Council On Affordable Housing (COAH) locations. The ordinance is for any new development coming in outside of the township’s affordable housing plan.

The ordinance went before the Planning Board last Thursday where it was found to be technically inconsistent with the master plan. As such, under New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law, council was required to pass a resolution acknowledging the Planning Board’s findings and explaining their reasons for adopting the ordinance despite the inconsistency.

Township Manager Thomas Neff explained the ordinance is “technically inconsistent” with the master plan because there is currently no language that requires large developments to have affordable housing set asides.

Resident and former councilman Greg Newcomer questioned whether the master plan currently has any language regarding affordable housing.

There is currently an affordable housing element to the master plan, but the plan does not include the sites that will be developed as part of the township’s affordable housing obligation or any language regarding new development set asides, according to Locatell.

He said at last Thursday’s planning board meeting, the board discussed the fact despite not being explicitly stated in the master plan, the set asides are in the spirit of the master plan. For that reason,the ordinance was brought back before council for second reading.

Locatell explained that when the new master plan recommendations come before council in January, the updated plan will have these sites and set asides included.

Councilwoman Victoria Napolitano said she recognizes that it seems strange to adopt something not consistent with the master plan. However, the ordinance is part of the township’s larger state-mandated requirement to fulfill their COAH obligation. She said state laws supersede the master plan.

“Despite the fact that this is technically inconsistent with the master plan, we’re really in many ways obligated to do this,” Napolitano said. “We’re doing it in order to be consistent with our state-mandated requirements. ”

Resident Kathy Sutherland expressed her support for the ordinance.

“I totally support this because then the township will no longer have to go through people coming up and saying, ‘I don’t want this in my backyard.’”

The next meeting of Moorestown Township council will take place on Monday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.