CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Township Committee moved closer to cementing its affordable housing plans on Thursday night with the introduction of two ordinances that will allow for the purchase of the Charlie Brown's property at 522 Southern Boulevard.
The plan is to build 62 affordable housing rental units on the property, a crucial step in meeting Chatham Township's third round obligation negotiated with the Fair Share Housing Center.
Chatham Township Mayor Michael Kelly highlighted four affordable housing developments at the start of the meeting.
- A formal appraisal by Appraisal Consultants determined that the fair market value of 522 Southern Boulevard is $3,685,000.
- Chatham Township received a formal notice from Charlie Brown's Restaurant that it will not be reopening for business.
- The Chatham Township Planning Board will hold a meeting Monday, Aug. 17 to determine if 522 Southern Boulevard meets the criteria for an area in need of condemnation redevelopment.
- A compliance hearing with Superior Court Judge Michael C. Gaus on the affordable housing plan is set for Sept. 17 and will be open to the public.
Chatham Township Mayor Michael Kelly gives a summary of affordable housing measures
The Chatham Township Committee unanimously approved the introduction of two ordinances concerning the purchase of 522 Southern Boulevard, which is currently owned by Kronos Holding, LLC.
The first was a $4 million bond ordinance that will be used to purchase land. The second was the authorization to acquire the land through an agreed purchase price or eminent domain via condemnation. The public hearing and adoption of both ordinances are set for a special meeting set for Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m.
"Our goal is for the township and the property owner to agree on a fair purchase price without the need for condemnation," Kelly said.
The committee also passed a resolution that gave its reasoning for going against the Master Plan and adopting an ordinance that rezones a subdivision of 344 Hillside Avenue as an R-3 Affordable Housing zone. The rezoning will allow for the leveling of the land for the construction of a Ranch style Groyp Home for special need adults.
Each measure passed by a 4-1 vote, with committee member Karen Swartz casting the no votes. Swartz said that her support of Group Homes, notwithstanding, she has been "against five lots (on the lot) since the beginning of time."
In 2019, the planning board had voted down a request to subdivide the same piece of property into four lots, stating that three lots would be the limit. But Deputy Mayor Tracy Ness said that the difference now, in addition to the advancement of the affordable housing element, was further protection of the steep slope with a reduced setback from the road to 25 feet.
Chatham Township Administrator Robert Hoffmann reported that Chatham Township athletic participants in travel baseball (up to 14 years of age) and adult men's and women's softball leagues had managed to safely complete four weeks of competition during the Coronavirus pandemic. Hoffmann said that there were zero cases of transmission of the virus.
Ness reported that Colony Pool had increased its membership from last year's total of 394 to 404 this season. But, because of the pandemic, reduced membership fees and the shortened season, the revenue was down $35,000. Last year, Colony Pool brought in $131,000 compared to the 2020 revenue figure of $96,000.