Little Egg Harbor Moves to Adopt Court-Ordered Fair Housing Ordinances

Apr 19, 2017
Photo by: Pat Johnson The Oak Lane affordable housing project is well under way in Little Egg Harbor. The project offers 56 low- and moderate-income apartments and helps fulfill the town’s housing obligations.

As part of its court settlement with the Fair Share Housing nonprofit group, the Little Egg Harbor Township Committee introduced three ordinances last week dealing with the town’s affordable housing plan.

At the April 13 municipal meeting, township attorney Jean Cipriani said the settlement was favorable to the township, as it shaved over 1,000 possible housing units of low- and moderate-income housing from the number the township must provide going forward. That number is 125 new units that have not yet been approved, plus 125 rehabs of existing homes with money coming from the affordable housing trust fund.

The ordinances call for an “administrative agent” designated by the township to administer the affordable units. The township must also develop an affirmative marketing plan with the three-county region of Ocean, Monmouth and Mercer.

Low-income units are reserved for households with a gross income of less or equal to 50 percent of the median income; moderate-income units are reserved for those who have a gross income of equal or less than 80 percent of median income. The median household income in Ocean County is $61,994, according to the 2015 census.

Ordinance 2017-06 adds a new section to the Land Use and Development code book, titled “Mandatory Affordable Housing Set-Aside,” which states that any new multi-family development of five or more units must make 20 percent of their for sale units and 15 percent of rental units “affordable.”

The ordinance creates a new affordable housing zone on block 325, lots 4.01, 4.02 and 4.03 along Mathistown Road and a new mixed use affordable housing zone on block 283, lot 2; block 284, lot 2; block 286, lot 1 and block 207, lots 2 and 3. This zone is along Route 9 on the east side of the Otis Bog extension, continuing toward Center Street, the former “Blue Comet” development.

The ordinances will maintain the township’s immunity from so-called “builder’s remedy” lawsuits, said Cipriani.

The planning board adopted the housing plan on March 2 and the township committee endorsed it on March 9.

The township must still submit the housing plan to Superior Court Judge Mark Troncone for his approval.

In other business, the township appointed Damian Murray as municipal court judge; donated $6,187 in fuel costs to the Great Bay Regional Volunteer EMS; and awarded contracts for road paving to Arawak Paving Co. including $320,000 for improvements to Otis Bog Road and $231,000 for improvements to Oak Lane. The money will come from the 2016 state Department of Transportation Municipal Aid Road Program.

The township has acquired a new police dog to replace Officer Tag, retiring in about nine months. Police Lt. Troy Bezak said Tag has been a loyal officer for 10 years. The $7,000 cost to purchase and train Octane, a Belgian Malinois, is split between the PBA and the township.

Octane has his own Facebook page, said Bezak.

The township’s Police Explorers will be competing in a statewide competition in May and this year they will also compete in the drilling ceremony, said Bezak. Last year, Little Egg Harbor’s Explorers participated and placed in all the events except the drill. “I anticipate they will do well,” said Bezak.

Township Engineer Jim Oris said he had communicated the township’s desire for a dog park to Ocean County Parks Director Mike Mangum, and although liability is still an issue, the county is looking at the possibility of developing a dog park on nearby county property. There is “more to come” on that issue, said Oris.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the process of revising the 2014-15 flood maps because of a successful lawsuit brought by New York, said Oris. Until the new maps are done, projected to be in 2020, the township can stick to the 2014-15 maps or go back to the 2006 maps. Oris said staying with the 2014-15 maps revised after Sandy would be the best choice, and Committeewoman Lisa Stevens agreed. She noted that the township is near to being approved for FEMA’s Community Rating System, which will allow insurance rates to go down, perhaps as much as 10 percent.

Oris said having adopted the 2014-15 maps was part of the resiliency plan for the Community Rating System.

Finally, the township will sport pink ribbons in May as part of the Paint Your Town Pink movement that raises awareness for not just breast cancer but all cancers, said
Township Clerk Diana McCrackin. McCrackin has personally enlisted the cooperation of 50 businesses in Little Egg Harbor that will participate. “Be prepared to see your town hall dressed in pink,” she said.

— Pat Johnson

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