CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Township residents are expected to again turn out in large numbers 7:30 p.m. Thursday night when the Chatham Township Committee takes a promised vote on reconsidering its decision to hand over the municipal building for the construction of 65 affordable housing units.
The Township Committee agreed at a special meeting held Nov. 26 to vote to "reconsider" its designation of a site at its next regular meeting on Dec. 12.
One possible idea brought up at the special meeting is to move the Chatham Township Police Department to the municipal building and construct more affordable housing at the site of the CTPD building on Southern Boulevard.
That idea, however, would be very difficult to achieve at this late date, considering that plans for developments at Dixiedale and the affordable housing at Arbor Green have already been approved. A vote to reconsider the plans could upend any settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing and, possibly, put the township at risk of builders remedy lawsuits.
On Nov. 14, the Chatham Township Committee voted, 4-1, to turn over the municipal building for the 65 affordable housing units after a power-point presentation by Chatham Township Administrator Robert Hoffmann. Part of the power-point presentation indicated there was a necessary $5 million renovation project to expand the Chatham Township Police Department, which would put the building in compliance with state corrections department mandates.
Chatham Township residents expressed outrage that the decision to turn the municipal building into affordable housing had not been revealed to the public until the night of the Nov. 14 vote. That prompted the Nov. 26 special meeting, where the committee and Chatham Township Attorney Albert Cruz answered questions from the public.
Cruz said at the Nov. 26 special meeting that there is a Dec. 17 deadline for the township to update the court on the progress of designating a site for affordable housing construction.
Chatham Township had agreed to the construction of 74 affordable housing units in its litigation settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center on its third round obligation in December 2018.
Cruz said he will act on the advice of the committee in possibly seeking a delay in the compliance of the settlement in order to consider other options.