EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Officials are looking to rezone a six-acre tract near the Shore Mall to provide affordable housing for veterans.
Renewable Jersey at Egg Harbor, LLC, plans to develop a 70-unit complex of two- and three-bedroom apartments near Cottonwood and West Jersey Avenues in the Cardiff section of the township.
Ron Rukenstein, the company principal, said associated companies have developed similar projects in Salem City and Pennsville, Salem County, and Galloway Township. In Galloway, he said the company helped develop the Seashore Gardens Living Center complex off Pitney Road.
The company planned to develop the Egg Harbor Township facility with tax credit financing through the state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. Rukenstein said the company planned to open the veterans complex by December 2014.
This complex is being developed, in part, Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough said, because it helps settle an earlier affordable-housing lawsuit filed by builders English Creek Manor Ltd. against the township. This particular developer is building this project, McCullough said, because “they were the only ones that approached us, quite frankly.”
Atlantic County Veterans Service Officer Robert Frolow thanked the township in a statement, saying, “This is a much needed project in our geographic area.”
Two hearings will be held on the project. On Tuesday, the township Planning Board is expected to voice support for an ordinance to rezone the three parcels at issue into the “Affordable Housing Regional Growth Zone 12.”
The proposed ordinance says the land could be used to build “One hundred percent (100%) affordable multi-family attached housing development targeted for disabled veterans and veterans of the armed forces of the United States of America,” with 12 units per acre built up to 50 feet or four stories in height. It also mandates indoor recreational space, a walking trail, covered gazebo, a children’s playground of at least 2,500 square feet in area and a similar-sized picnic area with tables and a grill.
The township committee is expected to consider a final vote on ordinance to rezone the land at its Wednesday meeting.
But some township residents are uneasy with the proposal. Ridgewood Estates resident Ted Gendron, 62, said he thought the township could place it in an area that was already cleared of forests. “Why knock down more trees?” he asked.
Mark Kiefer, a nearby resident, said he and a number of residents are afraid the township would diminish property values by developing affordable housing there. He said residents are also concerned about noise and traffic in an otherwise quiet single-family suburban neighborhood.
“We are losing the value of the homes that are up there and now we have something that we never would have imagined would be going into a brand new housing community,” Kiefer said.
Rukenstein said the company has won awards for developments and promised a high-quality facility. “There’s always a lot of misinformation,” he said. “Hopefully when they learn more and see more of what we are proposing, hopefully they’ll be supportive of it.”
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