NORTHFIELD — The Northfield Planning Board unanimously approved a Fair Share housing plan Thursday night that specifies where 200 units of state-mandated affordable housing may be built.

The plan, which would amend the city’s master plan, now goes to City Council for a vote at its Jan. 28 meeting. Council is expected to vote to in favor of the changes.

The city is required by the state Council on Affordable Housing to provide 190 affordable units. The plan passed by the board included an extra 10 units in case there needs to be a revision, said Solicitor Norman L. Zlotnick. If there are no revisions, the additional 10 units would be a credit to the city if COAH determines more units are required in the future.

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The city has until Jan. 29 to pass an affordable housing plan that identifies sites where the units of low- and moderate-income housing could be built to meet the requirements, under a ruling by a state Superior Court judge.

If the city doesn’t make that deadline, it could face fines and be vulnerable to lawsuits to force zoning changes.

“No one wants to face a builder’s remedy lawsuit, which could be very costly,” said Planning Board Chairman Richard Levitt on needing to approve the plan.

Councilman Frank Perri said “Under protest, yes” when voting on the resolution.

The locations to be rezoned for affordable age-restricted senior citizen housing include the 7-acre Arthur Henry property on Mill Road and Wabash avenues, and two city-owned properties on Dolphin Avenue.

In addition to the property at Cresson Avenue behind Tilton Shopping Center, which Max Gurwicz Enterprises is developing, other locations for family housing include a country club community at the Atlantic City Country Club, and a 16-acre combined site on Tilton Road made up of the Tilton Road Golf driving range, also owned by Max Gurwicz Associates, and a property next to it called CBZ Estate.

The city is planning to get 23 units of affordable housing credits for five group homes for the elderly and disabled located in the city. Two are run by Caring Inc, and one each by Butterfly Properties, Career Opportunity Development Inc., and the Disabilities Resource Center.

It plans to work with Habitat for Humanity to construct three units of affordable housing on city-owned property on Maple, Jackson, and Roosevelt avenues.

In addition to the Fair Share plan, the Thursday night vote also supported a Housing Element study that looked at existing housing and demographics.

City Council President Jim Travagline said in an interview before the meeting that the city will amend the plan again if its affordable housing requirement changes. If the number of required units decreases, it will likely first remove the driving range from the mix of affordable sites, he said.

On Dec. 16 City Council passed an ordinance to rezone 22 acres behind the Tilton Shopping Center off Cresson Avenue, owned by Max Gurwicz Enterprises, to a commercial multifamily zone.

Gurwicz plans to build a 265-unit rental housing complex there, with 40 units set aside for low- and moderate-income housing.

Previously the area had been zoned for senior citizen housing.

City residents came out to several council and planning board meeting to oppose the zoning change, saying a family development would add too many students to the school district and force tax increases. But city officials have said the city has no choice but to rezone and accept the Gurwicz development.

Since the city had no affordable housing plan in place, Gurwicz could have filed a builder’s remedy lawsuit, which the company would have been likely to win, they have said.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219

@MichelleBPost on Twitter

 

Contact Christian Hetrick:

609-272-7215

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