Court Approves Berkeley Heights' Settlements With Developers

Mayor Robert Woodruff, Council President Jeanne Kingsley and Councilman Marc Faecher at the Oct. 18 Council meeting. Credits: Barbara Rybolt

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- On Thursday, Oct. 13, the Township Council held a special meeting to vote on the settlements made with four developers in order to satisfy its affordable housing obligations. The developers are The Connell Company, Berkeley Developers, LLC, BH Developers and Lockhern.

Council members voted 5-0 to approve the four settlements -- Councilman Edward Delia was not present. The vote needed to be taken and all settlement agreements approved before Monday, Oct.17, the date the court set for the township to present the final settlement agreements or lose immunity from lawsuits by developers.

Councilman Marc Faecher reported the news to residents at the Oct.18 meeting. The total number of "affordable" homes that the township is required to build is 389 to meet the requirements agreed upon with the Fair Share Housing Center.

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Faecher said the court approved the number of units of affordable housing, 389, and methodology by which that number was derived. The township has "until April 17, 2017, to develop our housing plans.  "There will be redevelopment studies for each property ... Stringent deadlines apply. If we don't meet the deadline, we could lose our immunity," Faecher said.

Township Planner Mike Mistretta has "set up a schedule," to meet those deadlines.  

On the plus side, now that there are agreements in place, developers have to pay the legal and other fees. "They have to start funding this ... The court said we did a great job doing this ... We got the numbers and the design standards adhered to," and the affordable housing numbers are "good until 2025." 

The settlement with BH Developers, which owns the former Kings Property, 434 Springfield Ave., permits the property to be developed with 150 rental units, of which 15%, 23 of the units, will be developed as very low, low and moderate income affordable units.

The settlement with The Connell Company permits the rezoning of a portion of the OR-A Zone to permit a mixed-use residential development project with an affordable housing component. This is a potential rezoning.

The settlement with Berkeley Developers, LLC, for property located at 100 Locust Avenue, permits the property to be developed with 196 rental residential units, of which 15%, 29, of the units will be developed as very low, low and moderate income affordable units.

The settlement with Lockhern Associates, for property located at 450 Springfield Ave., permits the property to be developed as a mixed use residential development with 20 residential units, of which, 15%, three of the units, will be developed as very low, low and moderate income residential rental property. The property will have up to 4,000 square feet of retails space on the lower level.

Copies of the settlement agreements are on the township's website.

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