WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield’s town council approved two ordinances with a final vote Monday that address the town’s affordable housing obligation, which was determined “reasonable and fair” in last month’s settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center.
The Westfield Planning Board agreed upon the ordinances at its meeting last week.
The first creates a mandatory set-aside ordinance, which requires that housing is allowed when a certain area is rezoned or variance relief is sought.
“It’s a way where a municipality can capture affordable housing opportunities in areas that are not zoned for them,” town planner Donald Samet explained at the planning board meeting. “When there is a rezoning, this adoption allows for housing. If there is a variance granted by the zoning board related to density, in cases where there are six dwelling units per acre or greater, a certain percentage of those units must be affordable housing. The intent is to provide opportunity for additional housing through zoning and variances.”
The second requires that collected development fees be put into an affordable housing trust fund, which must be spent in agreement with a spending plan. It is the same main text as the development fee ordinance that was approved in 2016, Samet said.
“The council agreed it was appropriate to start the collection of fees sooner rather than later to beef up the fund that already exists,” Councilman and board member Sam Della Fera said at the planning board meeting. “This becomes the law as part of our settlement.”