WAYNE, NJ – If you haven’t been following the ongoing saga of Wayne Township’s affordable housing obligation, you are going to get a chance to catch up. On Wednesday, February 24, at 7:00 p.m. the Township will be holding its third public information session on the issue. Click here to attend the virtual presentation at that time.
The first such session happened nearly a full year ago on February 26, while the second happened on September 9, 2021.
As with previous presentations, the township administration will likely begin with a summary of Wayne's obligation. But the biggest question on many minds will be: how many residential units will be built in Wayne in the next few years?
Currently, there are six developments in the planning process with a seventh, the largest of all, that is likely to be built on the Toys R Us property.
- AvalonBay on Valley Road Extension – 473 total units with 71 set aside as affordable
- Preakness Shopping Center off of Alps Road, north of Hamburg Turnpike – 244 units with 37 set aside as affordable.
- WayneBridge Plaza on Hamburg Tpk – 98 units with 15 affordable
- Rockledge on Hamburg Tpk - 105 units with 21 affordable
- GAF off of Alps Rd – 449 units with 90 affordable
- Galreh on Route 23 at Black Oak Ridge Rd – 232 units with 24 affordable
- Toys R Us on Geoffrey Way – 1,350 units with 270 affordable (approximately)
- Total of 2,951 units with 528 set aside as affordable.
Recently, two more private developers petitioned the court to be intervenors in the current Wayne Township builder’s remedy lawsuit. These two want to build developments at 930 Berdan Ave and 1655 Valley Road Extension.
What is their status? Given what Passaic County Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan said during a hearing last month, these two developers will probably not be included as intervenors.
“I'm not inclined, at this point, to keep adding intervenors,” said Brogan. “Because we will never get the town up on its own. I'm not here to develop the entire Town, if I don't have to, and to be in charge of zoning for Wayne.”
Does this mean that this is the end of Wayne’s third round obligation? Mayor Chris Vergano, during the September 2020 Town Council meeting, said in regard to all seven of these properties, “we believe that’s all.”
When asked for clarification, Vergano said, “Based on our request for a vacant land adjustment, we anticipate compliance with the three additional properties.” He was referring at that time to the Preakness Shopping Center, AvalonBay and the Toys R Us properties.
Another question likely to be answered is how many school-aged children are going to move into Wayne and live in these new units.
Fifth Ward Councilwoman, Fran Ritter has openly criticized Vergano’s plan to meet Wayne’s obligation on many occasions.
Their latest disagreement is on the impact these new developments will have on the Wayne Schools.
Wayne currently has approximately 18,000 residential units, 55,000 residents and just under 8,000 students in the public schools. This is approximately 3 residents per unit and .6 public school students per unit. An extra 2,951 residential units, all things remaining equal, could yield an extra 8,856 residents of which 1,771 could be school-aged children.
However, a demographic study paid for by the Wayne Board of Education five years ago provides some different numbers. That study took the proposed Galreh development and added a non-specific 1,000-unit development and came up with 209 school-aged children that would come from both of these developments. 1232 units = 209 school-aged children. Using this math, approximately 500 new school-aged children would come to the district.
That is a huge disparity in numbers: 500 to 1,771. What that number will actually be will only be told by time, of course and is likely to fall somewhere between these figures. It’s possible that this question will be discussed during Wednesday’s meeting.
The Wayne Board of Education, according to BOE President, Cathy Kazan will be undertaking a new demographic study “very soon.”
“The Board is keenly aware of what the future may have in store for the district,” she said. “However, in order for us to plan and get a true picture of what that means in terms of students in our buildings, we need to do a thorough analysis.”
Of these seven coming residential units, five of them will be built on, or not far off of, the Hamburg Turnpike, putting strain specifically on Wayne Hills High School. Understanding the incoming demographics is hugely important to the local public school system.
Lastly, the question of what is in store for the future is likely to be addressed. When will construction begin on these projects? When is it likely that people will begin moving in?
The fourth round of affordable housing will come in 2025. Hopefully, this next round will go a little smoother, and the obligation for Wayne will be a more manageable number. Perhaps Vergano and Ritter, should they both be in office in 2025 can find some middle ground between their two approaches.