NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Borough Council postponed the Affordable Housing Zoning Ordinance hearing until June 12 at its Monday, May 22 meeting. The request to do so came from C.R. Bard, Inc. which is located in the area to be rezoned in order to accommodate large residential housing projects.
Kevin Phoenix, Director of Global Facilities at C.R. Bard, Inc. addressed the council and explained that the company may make changes within their Murray Hill facility and rezoning the area might prevent the firm from their implementation.
Mayor Al Morgan explained that the borough has been working on the affordable housing issues for over a year and that the New Jersey municipalities are mandated by the courts to present their affordable housing plan. “We are between a rock and a hard place,” Morgan said. The borough tried to come up with a plan that benefits New Providence the best. “Our plan is well thought out,” he added.
Morgan complemented C.R. Bard, Inc. for coming forward with their concerns and touted the long standing relationship that the borough has with the company. “I wish more companies would come forward and challenge it,” he said.
The council unanimously approved the postponement of the ordinance so that C.R. Bard, Inc. will have an opportunity to present their case at court.
However, the council approved two other ordinances related to affordable housing. One of the ordinances addresses the requirements of the fair housing act and the uniform housing affordability controls, and the other sets the development fees for any new housing projects. The new fee structure will help the borough to offset some of the money it has to lay out for accommodating new large scale housing projects, such as sewer system expansion etc.
Additionally, the council adopted two resolutions regarding affordable housing. One resolution is to seek court approval for the borough’s housing element and fair share plan. The other resolution sets up the marketing requirements for affordable housing units.
There are a set of regulations on how the developers must advertise available affordable housing units. They must be advertised in New York Times and Star-Ledger, in radio and in other means of media. Postings of available affordable housing units must also be placed in the public libraries of Union, Essex, Morris and Warren counties.
Councilman Michael Gennaro noted that there is an affordable housing need both in New Providence and in the surrounding communities. There is a lottery every time affordable housing becomes available.
However, the borough officials are not pleased that a court made the zoning rules. “We don’t think this is a good policy,” Gennaro said.
At the May 8 meeting Gennaro had explained in length regarding how the borough came up with its current plan in order to meet its court required affordable housing allotment of 316 units. He again emphasized that despite the plan the borough can’t control to whom property owners in the rezoned residential area are selling their land.
He also noted that the process of a developer purchasing a property and completing the development is long. It will take at least two years, he said. The borough has ample time to plan what changes are needed in terms of public safety, sewers and other municipal services. Over time the potential 1180 new housing units, both market and affordable, are “very much on our mind,” Gennaro said.