CHATHAM, NJ - Former Chatham Township Mayor and current planning board member Nicole Hagner was among the residents who came to voice their displeasure with the affordable housing agreement the Chatham Township Committee announced on Wednesday, which places 62 affordable housing units on River Road.
Hagner and a group of River Road residents came to the Chatham Township Committee meeting on Thursday night to question the mayor and committee who announced Wednesday the mediation agreement in the litigation pending on its third round obligation of affordable housing with the Fair Share Housing Center.
The mediation agreement with the court's special master calls for 62 affordable housing units to be built between 476 and 490 River Road; 24 affordable housing units previously agreed to at Arbor Green (Skate Park on Southern Boulevard), and three Group homes that would house a total of 12 units at sites that the township will purchase in the near future.
The plan will go before Superior Court Judge Michael Gaus for approval on Friday, March 13 and Chatham Township will have to show that it is in compliance with the December 2018 settlement at a court date in mid-June 2020.
River Road residents had originally been told that the 5 1/2-acre site - now the put forth as the linchpin to the mediation agreement - was not suitable because of deep slope restrictions. Hagner noted that River Read had been considered as an unviable site last year (see video below).
The committee has been under pressure to come up with a multi-site plan ever since the enormous public outcry that resulted after its Nov. 14, 2019, vote designated the municipal building as the site for 65 affordable housing units. Candace Lane residents brought forth a civil lawsuit against Chatham Township because of the municipal building plan.
In its litigation with the Fair Share Housing Center, the judge's denial of the township's request for a delay in compliance gave the committee a short window to find an alternate solution.
The committee explained that placing 60 units at one site is financially advantageous since it qualifies the township for state funding, saving millions of dollars.
Deputy Mayor Tracy Ness talks about the time limit that was facing the committee
River Road residents said they were blindsided by the decision announced Wednesday on the township's website. Geri Nigro of River Road said 62-unit development will cause a loss in property value that will force her to leave Chatham Township (see video below).
Frank and Lucille Plantemoli, 34-year residents of River Road, are within walking distance of the proposed 62-unit site. Lucille Plantemoli, the vice president of the township's board of health, and her husband had been told that River Road was not in the picture.
"You're looking at the face of the decisions you've made," said Plantemoli in the video below.
Dennis Williams of River Road said that the committee should go with the discussed plan of moving the police department to the municipal building and placing more affordable housing units at the skate park (see video below).
Mayor Michael Kelly, who will hold an informal meeting with the public 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the municipal building to answer questions about the agreement said that a decision had to be made in the video below.
Dan Miller, a resident of the Green Village section of Chatham Township, suggested that the mayor and committee should find a way to compensate River Road residents for their potential loss in property values in the video below.