New Zoning For Affordable Housing Fails To Pass

Jackson Town Hall (Photo by Micromedia Publications)

JACKSON – Council let die an ordinance that would have created a “PIC Planned Inclusionary Community Zone” as proposed to a developer.

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, inclusionary zone policies “encourage the production of affordable housing by requiring or encouraging housing developers to build residential developments where a certain percentage of the housing units are affordable to low or moderate income residents.”

Builders in turn often receive incentives for setting aside units for affordable housing, such as building more units that usually permitted or fast-tracking permits to build.

The ordinance, which had first reading at a recent Jackson Council meeting, was drafted by representatives from EL at Jackson.

The ordinance set a maximum “gross residential density” of 1,100 units. Twenty percent of those homes for sale would be affordable housing units, and 15 percent set side as affordable housing rentals.

EL at Jackson wanted to put such a development at the old HovBilt off Perrineville Road in Cassville.

“Planned Inclusionary Zoning (PIC) and mixed income communities are usually put into place in a city dwelling. New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. utilized this zoning for redevelopment purposes,” Environmental Commissioner and activist Denise Garner told The Jackson Times. “Jackson Township does not have the need for redevelopment. This kind of zoning does add pressure to our already environmental impacts in our township that houses some of the most important resources. Jackson Township is very important to the Barnegat Bay, because we house the following headwaters for the Medeteconk Watershed, Toms River Watershed, and The Kirkwood-Cohansey water-table aquifer. Why would our township officials even consider this type of zoning, which is actually urbanization?”

While residents showed up with protest signs about the ordinance, council did let the ordinance die. Municipal attorney Jean Cipriani said the ordinance was introduced under the terms of a consent order. The township has been involved with affordable housing litigation, which EL at Jackson intervened in; the HovBilt project was approved years ago pursuant to an affordable housing agreement for senior housing. That housing was never built and some of the land changed hands.

  The land is still zoned for the abandoned project, which El at Jackson is trying to change.

Cipriani read into the record a report by Jackson’s affordable housing planner, John Maczuga of JDM Planning Associates in Brick, responding to El at Jackson’s proposed ordinance. An attorney for the developer and Maczuga had a back and forth, incorporating changes to the draft ordinance.

Maczuga found numerous problems with the ordinance, including the fact that it didn’t specifically rezone any parcel in town, among other issues. Items Maczuga said were discussed and agreed to at a meeting between the parties were not in the revised ordinance.

Council had no comments about Maczuga’s report.

In the meantime, while other municipalities around Ocean County continue to enter into settlement agreements about affordable housing obligations, Jackson Township plans to go to trial. The township entered into an agreement with attorney Jeffrey Surenian, Brielle, who specializes in affordable housing.