Council addresses affordable housing, bond ordinance

Township also passed first item regarding creation of 2020 budget

Gloucester Township Council met Feb. 24 with a packed agenda, including affordable housing obligations, the amending of a 2014 bond ordinance and the establishment of a cap bank.

The township passed three items upon first reading during its final February meeting pertaining to its affordable housing obligations. All will be up for a public hearing during council’s first meeting in March.

According to local officials, Gloucester Township is responsible for adding 1,014 affordable housing units by 2025 as part of its third-round obligations. The township had previously met prior obligations of 359 required units and is now in the process of rehabilitating an additional 135.

Through the ordinances passed upon first reading, the township is implementing zoning changes that will allow it to build additional affordable housing units. The township’s next compliance meeting regarding affordable housing units is in May.

As part of the three ordinances, existing legislation would be amended for the Lakeland Complex Phase I Redevelopment Project, allowing for multifamily housing, with 20 percent set aside for low- and moderate-income families. Meanwhile, council also wants to adopt an overlay of existing zoning for a portion of Lakeland Complex Phase 2.

Upon second reading at the meeting, council unanimously approved a proposal to reallocate $684,368 from a storm water drainage improvement project — originally passed in 2014 — that will now be redirected toward the township’s Redwood Street Culvert Project.

The township borrowed approximately $670,000 from the state Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) for the storm water drainage portion of the bond ordinance, with the excess of more than $1 million not touched. It will take a separate ordinance to borrow monies for the Redwood project, which the township anticipates will cost less than originally expected.

Resident Ray Polidoro requested that council be more mindful of spending and bond ordinances in the future, given that it’s been more than five years since the township has addressed the funds previously allocated.

“I have a basic request because of the questions back and forth regarding bonds,” Polidoro said. “I’m asking council, as you find things of great importance … not to introduce new bonds and borrowing to this township before previously bonded money or unused money and previous bonds go used.”

Council also passed a proposal at the meeting to exceed the 2 percent cap and establish a cap bank ahead of a 2020 budget that has not yet been introduced by the township.

With its passing upon second reading, the township can now increase its budget by 3.5 percent over last year’s total.