The Harrison Township Committee on Feb. 3 adopted its Richwood Amended Redevelopment Plan, which includes changes to affordable housing requirements and allows companies to seek approval for building in the Richwood section.
After nearly 13 years, the township’s approval of the plan — with changes to the original plan drafted in 2013 — enables businesses and developers to build. The town’s plan consists of roughly 1,500 rooftop units and about a million square feet of commercial retail between Route 55 and Richwood/Barnsboro Road.
Interested retail companies and developers can now come before the township’s Joint Land Use Board to seek approval for building within designated parcels. That plan has been through improved versions in the last 10 years. But as residents already know, the execution never happened.
Over the last couple of years, the township has been engaged with the developer and overseen by state courts. The process was about approving certain amendments — mostly within the affordable housing component — to the original plan.
As far as housing and commercial retail, the map looks the same, said Mayor Lou Manzo. The most significant change on the map is the addition of the blue parcel, named Township Affordable, expected to hold 70 affordable housing apartment units.
An additional 190 affordable single-family homes to be built as stacked townhomes will be dispersed throughout the other residential parcels. Out of the 1,255 market-rate houses, the township has the ability to build up to 350 market-rate apartments.
The other change is to the map of Parcel J. That area — which the township still owns — was previously designated for a school, as well as a police and fire station, but will now be open to a residential area. Five to six years into the construction process, the school system will likely need to expand, according to Manzo. The township and the school district agreed they would rather build the expansion close to current schools.
The other plan change allows up to five drive-throughs instead of two on any of the commercial parcels.
The approval for one million square feet of commercial retail did not change in the township’s new plan. As before, up to 400,000 square feet of commercial lots will be placed along each side of Route 322 between Lambs Road and Route 55. The plan also includes a 200,000-square-foot town center section along 322 between Dunkin’ Donuts and Lambs Road.
“We all don’t believe [one million square feet of commercial retail] will ever happen,” said Manzo. “The market has changed. Thank God it sat for all of these years, because we probably would have had a bunch of big [stores] out there on those corners maybe going dark right now as the retail world changes under our feet, as far as brick and mortar goes.”
The map is just an overview of what type of stores or development can go where. Each store or developer still has to request the township’s Joint Land Use Board’s approval to build in the designated parcels.