Wall Township approves affordable housing settlement

The Wall Township planning board has completed a redevelopment study for a section off Route 35. FILE PHOTO

WALL TOWNSHIP — A court settlement on the township’s latest affordable-housing mandate, which sets the number and location for nearly a thousand units at a dozen sites throughout the township through the year 2025, has been approved by the township committee.

The vote came shortly before midnight on Wednesday, following a four-hour public forum that included a PowerPoint presentation by officials explaining the history, details and rationale for the settlement plan, as well as a lengthy question-and-answer session for residents. About 70 residents attended the meeting at the municipal complex.

All municipalities in New Jersey must fulfill state-ordered affordable-housing obligations.

The settlement sets the township’s affordable-housing units requirement at 1,250 units, but the township is expected to earn bonus credits that nullify about a quarter of those units, leaving a mandate of 937 actual units, officials said.

The settlement agreement with the housing advocate group Fair Share Housing Center was reached in June at state Superior Court in Freehold. Wall Township’s plan still must undergo a court fairness hearing in October and a court compliance hearing several months later, before it is locked in and the township gains immunity from builders’ lawsuits. 

Residents asked a wide variety of questions about the possible implications of the plan and how it would be implemented. Several emphasized that they are not opposed to creating more affordable housing in Wall, but they object to the overall density when affordable units are tucked into larger developments with numerous market-rate units.

Township Administrator Jeffry Bertrand agreed, and said township officials worked hard to keep the numbers as low as possible.

“It’s not about affordable housing. It’s about density, the mass number of units and over-development of our community,” he said.

“While we are pleased with our ability to negotiate a settlement that we think is best for Wall Township, we don’t like the subject matter … Forced planning is not something we are happy about,” he said.

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