TOWN HALL MEETING ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The Mayor and Council of the Town of Clinton, along with the Town of Clinton Land Use Board will be holding a joint meeting to discuss the impacts of future affordable housing obligations in Clinton on Monday, October 23, 2017 at 6:00PM at the Clinton Fire Department (located on New Street). ALL PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ATTEND.
Since 1975, municipalities in New Jersey have been required, in one shape or another, to provide affordable housing in their communities. The Town of Clinton is no exception and has provided housing for low and moderate income households. However, due to the actions and inactions of the State Legislature, affordable housing matters have been put under the supervision of the Superior Court and State Supreme Court, which have placed undue and unknown burdens on Clinton beyond what our infrastructure can handle.
Due to the uncertainty of the courts, combined with the lack of support from the Governor and Legislature, we are unsure of what the Courts will dictate to be our affordable housing obligation. However, we can say that there will be new residential housing development in Clinton. Regardless of the court ordered number, there will be additional costs to the Town in the form of municipal services to these new units (IE: Water, Sewer, Trash Collection, Snow Removal, Leaf/Brush Collection, etc.). Additionally, there will be costs to the local and regional school districts as well due to the fact there will be new school-age children.
The Town is not opposed to affordable housing; however, we have concerns with the Governor and State Legislature for allowing this process to drag on for 40+ years to the detriment of the taxpayers with no resolution in sight. During this time, people who truly need affordable housing are being caught in a dysfunctional bureaucracy in Trenton. We continue to make affordable housing available to financially vulnerable people whenever possible, as you can see from the two (2) recent projects in Clinton. Twin Ponds (Pond Drive – which is located on the Western side of Town near DeMott Pond) has twelve (12) affordable housing units and Halstead Place (on Halstead Street) has seven (7) units. Both of these developments were only required to classify 15% of their units as affordable, but by working closely with the developers, were able to achieve a 20% set-aside.
The Mayor and Council have been part of, and have been following the litigation surrounding affordable housing in New Jersey for some time. Key municipal staff and professionals have been diligently working toward a result that would minimize the impact in our community since this began. However, it seems like for every step we take forward, the court is making us take two steps backward. We are now at a point in the process where it is clear that the court is going to mandate a significant number of affordable housing units get constructed in Clinton. The largest property in questions is locally referred to as the “Moebus” tract. This is the large, farmed property on Rt. 31 that backs up to Center Street and Georges Place. This leaves the Town with several options:
1 – Put our trust in the court to reduce the number of units required and/or prohibit homes from being built on this, and other properties in Town. However, this is impossibility as the court has made it clear that we will have no choice and that units will be developed on this property whether we want them there or not.
2 – Try and negotiate an agreement with the developer involved in this litigation, as well as other property owners with available land in order to minimize the impact of any development that is constructed.
Neither of these options is ideal, and the Mayor and Council have wrestled with the pros and cons of each for many months now. In fact, for some time we have been working closely with property owners in order to come up with a palatable solution for development on this property that would fit in with the community; however, this is proving to be a very difficult task. We will continue to fight the good fight against all obstacles in order to do what is right for our residents while developing a plan that maintains the current quality of life and culture of ourcommunity. However, it is inevitable that the court will mandate significant changes to the face of Clinton in future years.
We encourage all residents to attend the meeting on Monday, October 23, 2017 at 6:00PM at the Clinton Fire Department in order to hear directly from the Mayor, Council, Town Planner, Town Attorney, and other key municipal staff on the impact that affordable housing will have on the Town of Clinton.