Amendment for affordable housing site OK’d

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Wall Township Municipal Building

WALL TOWNSHIP — The Wall Township Planning Board on Monday reviewed and unanimously endorsed an amendment to a township ordinance that rezones an additional half-acre portion of one of three sites it rezoned last September for affordable housing.

The ordinance amendment is to allow access to one of the township’s proposed affordable housing sites, and will now be sent back to the township committee for public hearing and final adoption. The additional half-acre is added to the site’s approximate 22 acres.

Wall Township Planner Nora Coyne said the ordinance amendment is directly related to Ordinance 8-2020, which rezoned lots at 4151 Dunroamin Road, situated north of the Quail Ridge Golf Course off Route 34, from office research to affordable housing. The developer K. Hovnanian plans to build 105 dwellings there, 20 percent of which will be designated as affordable housing and the rest as market rate. 

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“The purpose of this ordinance is to provide for affordable housing so that the township provides its fair share of affordable housing in compliance with the Affordable Housing Center mandates and its agreement with Fair Share Housing,” Ms. Coyne said at the Monday meeting, which was conducted remotely. “This provides immunity from builders’ remedy lawsuits so that the township doesn’t lose control of its zoning.” 

This ordinance will not affect the township’s master plan, Ms. Coyne said.

Court hearing looms

Wall’s affordable housing court settlement with the Fair Share Housing group in 2019 calls for building just under 1,000 affordable-housing units at more than 15 sites scattered around town. Three sites, including the Dunroamin Road one, were approved for rezoning by the township committee at its Sept. 23, 2020 meeting. 

According to Wall Township Administrator Jeff Bertrand, the township is scheduled for its Superior Court compliance hearing on March 9, with a “strong possibility” of postponement due to ongoing discussions with the township and the Fair Housing Center. All of the developments in the plan still would have to go through standard planning board reviews with public hearings, before any site plans could be approved.

Other possible locations have caused significant public outcry from neighboring residents concerned of increased traffic woes, notably the site along Route 35 and Allaire Road, adjacent to the Spring Lake Heights town line.

One resident, Richard Ralph of Spring Lake Heights, spoke at the virtual Wall committee meeting last Wednesday, asking the committee to reconsider the proposal.

“I’m very concerned about the density factor coming in there. Currently, Wall Township is over 30 square miles with a density of only 853 [people per square mile],” he said to the council.

“I don’t see how we’re going to deal with the traffic, the density and the pollution. Already Allaire Road is backed up in the summer almost all the way back to Route 71 on the weekend. What are we going to do with all this traffic? 

“It’s fairly inappropriate that you’ve placed all this density in a corner of your town on the other side of a highway backed up against a neighboring town. It’s almost like, if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Well, we’re going to be able to see this for sure and it’s not good,” Mr. Ralph said.

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