Council works through affordable housing details

Township ensures plans are fully in place ahead of compliance hearing.

It’s full steam ahead for Moorestown Township’s affordable housing plan. 

While conversations around planning and execution of the township’s agreement have dominated council for the past few years, the final pieces of the plan are coming into place ahead of the township’s compliance hearing in November. 

At Monday night’s council meeting, council discussed some of the final details worked out for the Harper Drive and Centerton Road sites. 

In September of 2019, council shifted gears from the Pennrose site on West Route 38 to 307 Harper Drive. Council subsequently purchased the approximately 3.12-acre Harper site for $1.8 million. 

Council on Monday introduced an ordinance to acquire 60 additional feet of land adjacent to the site for around $50,000. Township Manager Thomas Merchel said the additional land was agreed to at the initial time of purchase, but because it involved a subdivision, the purchase required approvals from both the township and county planning boards. 

With those approvals good to go, the council can formally authorize the purchase via ordinance. Merchel explained the township already has the money in hand given it anticipated acquiring the additional land during the initial purchase.  

The township also had some final details to work out regarding its  agreement with Community Investment Strategies, Inc. (CIS), which is developing the Centerton Road site. Earlier in the year, council had given Mayor Nicole Gillespie the green light to sign off on a draft agreement with CIS. More recently, the township went back through that agreement and brought it back before council on Monday night.

Parkers Bend Retirement Community LLC is going to build 130, age-restricted, high-end nursing homes on Centerton Road. Through a subdivision, the company is giving a portion of the land to the township to donate to CIS, which will build around 80 units of fully-age-restricted, 100- percent affordable housing. 

Kevin Aberant, the township’s attorney, said CIS requested language in the agreement that Parkers Bend is responsibile for building the road leading to the site. The company also asked that in the event Parkers Bend is unable to build the road, the township takes responsibility for the construction or reimburses CIS for the cost. 

Parkers Bend has until August, 2022 to complete the road. 

“I think we’re confident that (Parkers Bend) is going to proceed with it by then,” Aberant said. 

Merchel stressed that the township believes the road will be built in a timely basis, and the updated language of its agreement is largely just a matter of assurances for CIS. 

The next meeting of the Moorestown Township Council will take place on Monday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m.