Holmdel works toward housing settlement

HOLMDEL The Township Committee passed a resolution approving a proposed agreement to resolve issues and obligations with the Fair Share Housing Center.

Fair Share Housing Center is a non-profit organization founded in 1975. It is the only public interest organization entirely devoted to defending the housing rights of New Jersey’s poor through enforcement of the Mount Laurel Doctrine, the landmark decision that prohibits economic discrimination through exclusionary zoning and requires all towns to provide their “fair share” of their region’s need for affordable housing, according to the organization’s website.

“What’s approved tonight is a proposed settlement between the township and Fair Share Housing which would allow the township to resolve the ongoing lawsuit with respect to affordable housing,” Township Attorney Michael Collins said.

During its semi-monthly meeting, the committee approved the resolution on Aug. 8, at the municipal building.

“The agreement is an attempt at resolving litigation between the township and [the] Fair Share Housing counsel. We previously had our affordable housing counsel here, I think it was two meetings ago, and he gave a presentation to those who were present about the Counsel on Affordable Housing and the township’s obligations under the Mount Laurel doctrine,” Collins said.

By approving the resolution it will guarantee a 25 percent reduction in the amount of fair share housing that the township needs, according to Deputy Mayor Patrick Impreveduto.

Like all municipalities in New Jersey, Holmdel is currently in its third round of housing obligations in order to show compliance with the state. The township’s fair share housing obligation is 297 units, according to the committee agenda.

With the proposed settlement agreement there is only about 110 new units that are going to be built out of the obligation of 297 units. The rest are existing controls and areas that are already in place, according to Township Administrator Donna Vieiro.

“What the township committee is approving tonight is simply the ability to enter into the settlement agreement, which was in the agenda that still needs to be approved by the court, it needs to go to a fairness hearing and truthfully the courts are very backed up and have not been acting on affordable housing at this point they have been waiting for trials to be resolved out in Mercer County. [The resolution] is an approval, but it could go on and it is the subject of ongoing litigation..” Collins said.

Resident Dean Labarca spoke during meeting. He asked the committee for support regarding a letter he received from the Township of Hazlet informing him and his neighbors that the township plans to build a second four-story Holiday Inn hotel behind their houses.

Several of Labarca’s neighbors were also at the meeting to voice their concerns over the building of a second hotel near their homes.

“I am here to seek help from the town for a potential problem in Hazlet with the development of a new Holiday Inn…I am hoping the town can help us fight this and even maybe with some possible representation,” Labarca said.

Currently there is already a Holiday Inn hotel located behind his house. Over the years Labarca said he has experienced many issues living behind the current hotel’s parking lot, such as noise pollution due to the vehicles parking in the hotel’s parking lot and privacy issues.

After hearing Labarca speak, the committee agreed that it would support the residents who are trying to fight the building of a second hotel. Committeeman Eric Hinds said that the committee would write a letter to Hazlet officials opposing the building of the hotel.

There is going to be a Land Use Board meeting where residents may voice their opinions toward the building of a hotel, at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 17, at the Hazlet municipal building, located at 1776 Union Ave.

Before beginning its meeting the committee went into an executive session to discuss potential litigation on Green Acres, however no formal decision was made, according to Township Clerk Maureen Doloughty.

Boy Scout Troop 331 member Ajay Movva presented his Eagle Scout project and got approval from the committee and Mayor Gregory Buontempo to do his project.

“I am planning to work on the Eagle Scout Project with Mr. Larry Fink as my project mentor. My project involves placing two signs, one at each end of the newly established Ramanessin Brook Greenway Nature trail that is located between Crawfords Corner Road and Roberts Road,” Ajay said.

The Greenway trail and signage is one of the projects the the Friends of Holmdel Open Space is doing as part of recreational trails grant that the organization has received and Fink is the organization’s trails project coordinator, according to Ajay.

To built and install the signs for his Eagle Scouts project the funding is going to be provided by grant money obtained by the Friends of Holmdel Open Space. The work involved to build and install the signs is going to be done by scouts from Troop 331 under supervision from adult scout leaders and Fink, according to Ajay.

For more information visit www.holmdeltownship-nj.com/agendacenter.

Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.