Millstone Township affordable housing agreement awaits judge’s approval

MILLSTONE – Officials in Millstone Township are pursuing court approval of a settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center which will confirm the township has met its current obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing in the community.

The Fair Share Housing Center, Cherry Hill, advocates for the development of affordable housing throughout New Jersey. Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets certain guidelines.

A fairness and compliance hearing on Millstone’s proposed housing element and fair share plan for its affordable housing obligation is scheduled to be held in state Superior Court on March 22.

During the hearing, representatives of the municipality will seek to have the proposed plan approved by the court. If the plan is approved, the judge will schedule a final compliance hearing and consider approval of Millstone’s adopted and endorsed housing element and fair share plan.

As part of the fairness hearing, a proposed settlement agreement between Millstone and the Fair Share Housing Center which determines the township’s affordable housing obligation will be brought before the court for approval.

Members of the Township Committee passed a resolution authorizing the execution of the settlement agreement on Dec. 18.

If the settlement agreement is approved by the judge, township officials will be required to adopt a housing element and fair share plan consistent with the terms of the agreement and amend the municipality’s affordable housing ordinance and zoning ordinance to implement the terms of the settlement agreement and its zoning.

If the settlement agreement is rejected by the judge it will become null and void. Either decision may be appealed, according to the agreement.

According to the settlement agreement, Millstone’s current affordable housing obligation is 231 units, which the township has met through having credit for 232 units.

Existing properties in Millstone that provide affordable housing are senior citizen rental apartments on Stagecoach Road (10 units); a group home on Burnt Tavern Road (six units), a group home on Novad Court (six units), a group home on Millstone Road (two units), a group home on Red Valley Road (two units), an inclusionary property with a percentage of units set aside as affordable housing on Moccasin Court (two units), and a property on Burnt Tavern Road (two units).

Millstone also receives credit for three units from its previous affordable housing obligation, according the settlement agreement.

According to the settlement agreement, additional properties that will provide affordable housing in Millstone are under construction or being developed by the Affordable Housing Alliance: a property comprised of 49 affordable units; 30 affordable rental apartments on Novad Court; 10 rental apartments for senior citizens on Stagecoach Road; and four family rental apartments on Burnt Tavern Road.

In addition, there is an affordable accessory apartment overlay zone (10 units) and inclusionary family rental apartments (46 affordable apartments out of 248 total units. The remaining 202 apartments will be market rate).

Along with the 182 affordable housing units currently provided or to be provided in the township, Millstone receives 50 affordable housing units as bonus credits to bring its total amount of credited units to 232, enabling the township to meet its obligation under the settlement agreement.

If the settlement agreement receives approval from the court, Millstone officials will be required to prepare and submit a spending plan for review and approval.