CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Township took a step toward resolving its third round of Affordable Housing obligations by designating the 3.8 acre parcel on Southern Boulevard, also known as the Skate Park, as an "area in need of redevelopment" on Monday night.

Chatham Township is in the process of negotiating its obligation in Morris County Superior Court.

The 8-1 vote by the Chatham Township Planning Board will send the recommendation back to the Chatham Township Committee, the "governing body," for approval. In November, the township committee had passed a resolution asking the planning board to study the area and determine if could be designated for redevelopment.

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Steve K. Warner, planning board attorney, noted that it was a non-condemnation designation, which means the land cannot be seized through eminent domain.

The vote by the planning board makes it much more likely that the Skate Park, located next to the Chatham Township Police Department, will be converted into Affordable Housing. According to Chatham Township Planner Francis J. Banisch III, a 3.8 parcel could accommodate about 10 units of affordable housing per acre. 

Kevin Sullivan, member of the township committee and planning board, explains that any construction would have to be in keeping with the nature and character of the town and would not be a high rise

A second resolution passed by the township committee in November also requested a rezoning from the planning board for Dixiedale Farm, which was not voted on Monday night.

The second resolution involves the sale of 30.33 acres of land, known as Dixiedale Farm, from Betsie Holt Harr to Sterling Properties. The two-step deal would allow the rezoning so that developer Sterling Properties, in partnership with Sun Homes, can build 54 residential units, including four on the second floor of the existing mansion on the property.

In exchange for the rezoning of the land, Sterling Properties and Sun Homes have offered to "provide the Township with a one-hundred percent affordable housing development on the 3.8 acres" owned by the Chatham Township on Southern Boulevard.

Chatham Township residents from the Sutton Woods development came to the meeting to ask questions about the planning board's vote, which is likely to lead to development of town homes on the property known as Dixiedale Farm.

"There is going to be a public presentation on the concept plan for development of the Averett Property (Dixiedale),"  Thomas Ciccarone, Chatham Township Administrator, said. "They have proposed to build 50 townhomes and convert the mansion into a clubhouse with four additional townhomes for a total of 54 units. That's out there in the public. They've been here (to the planning board). They haven't made an actual application yet. They haven't closed on the deal yet. If you're hearing things like that, it's out there."

Banisch responded to questions residents asked during the public portion of the meeting by giving his perspective on the development that would be allowed, according to density regulations.

"Dixiedale would be developed with about 300 townhouses of which 20 percent would be affordable onsite, 60 affordable units, 240 market units could go on that site according to the minimum standard density affordable housing inclusionary development," Banisch said. "When you hear 54 units, no affordable housing versus 300 units with 60 affordable units, if you're living across the street wondering what's going to happen soon, you might not be as worried as you think you should be."