Hillsborough Township Committee gets first look at proposed Sherman Tract plan

Hillsborough Township Municipal Building. (Courtesy photo)

The Hillsborough Township Committee has passed more legislation to stimulate an affordable housing redevelopment project near Camplain Road.

Municipal officials passed a resolution on June 11 authorizing Concord Street Urban Renewal Associates, LP, to make an application to the Planning Board on behalf of the township, which would give the go-ahead to Mayor Frank DelCore and township clerk Pamela Borek to implement the application and grant the applicant to develop land parcels in conjunction with the Sherman Redevelopment Plan.

Committee members also declared the subdivision and development of phase one of the Sherman tract is consistent with its intention and scope of the redevelopment plan.

The redevelopment plan for the parcel has come before the Planning Board and the Township Committee several times this year.

At a February Planning Board meeting, officials said the purpose of the Sherman Redevelopment Plan is to establish new land use standards for what is known as the Sherman tract off Camplain Road.

The property is in a rehabilitation area to which the redevelopment plan refers. Officials explained there is a 65-acre tract that was purchased by the township in 2018 for the construction of affordable housing in an effort to meet Hillsborough’s court-imposed affordable housing obligation.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets certain guidelines.

Professionals from RPM Development Group, a designated redeveloper for the site, were present at the June committee meeting to discuss their concept development plans for one part of a 62-acre parcel of the Sherman tract.

The professionals said their plans call for the first part of proposed construction on the parcel, which encompasses about 31 acres and would include 88 affordable housing units in 13 two-story townhouses.

After the developer’s professionals presented their concept plans, Mayor DelCore explained the intentions of the proposed development plan for the site, as well as its dedication toward the offer of 100% affordable units.

“As we have talked about numerous times on the dais and at our town hall meeting, as part of the requirements we have as part of our affordable housing plan, we need to have a plan in place that will allow us to fulfill our obligation,” Mayor DelCore said.

“This [proposed] development goes a long way in order to do that. This is a 100% affordable process that allows us to, ultimately in two phases, fulfill in total 176 units that are affordable, and it’s a nice-looking development and plan,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Doug Tomson said given Hillsborough’s mandate to meet its affordable housing obligation, the proposed development concept from RPM Development Group better suits the township’s needs as well as the residents’ needs, given the impact a larger development could have had on the community.

“Although we find this forceful affordable housing [obligation] being thrown at us by the state, as distasteful as it is, when you have a project like this where you put everything on one tract of land, similar to what we did with Amwell Road, which stopped 500 units from being built and prevented 1,100 new students from entering the schools – using those rough numbers by approving this and going forward with RPM, you are looking at stopping 600 to 700 new homes from being built in Hillsborough, and preventing 1,200 to 1,400 new students coming into our school district, which would have been disastrous,” Tomson explained.

“We cannot afford to be forced to build more and more of these units by the state, so projects like this are the only way you can try to get out from underneath this, unfortunately,” he said.

About the Sherman Tract Redevelopment Plan:

Officials said the redevelopment plan established the standards under which the housing would be developed. In accordance with the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL), officials said the tract was designated as an area in need of rehabilitation by the Township Committee in July 2018.

Officials said the goals of the redevelopment plan are to allow for the creative and flexible transformation of an underused tract into a productive and stabilizing development that will complement the surrounding residential neighborhoods and directly contribute to the production of affordable housing.

Officials also said the current objectives for the rehabilitation area are to: provide parcels of land of sufficient size and dimension to enable an orderly arrangement of new land uses; create land use and building requirements specific to the rehabilitation area that are sensitive to environmental features, particularly those associated with the Royce Brook and nearby residential uses; and curtail the encroachment of non-residential uses into the immediate neighborhood.

The Sherman property is framed by residential uses along Camplain Road and South 20th Street. Officials said the plan would prevent any industrial incursions into the residential neighborhood and require that all of the units constructed on the site meet low and moderate income affordability requirements.

Officials said the plan divides the Sherman property into two parcels, “A” and “B.”

Parcel “A,” near Camplain Road and South 20th Street, calls for development consistent with the surrounding residential district. The 3-acre parcel is zoned residential, not industrial, and the plan leaves the residential zoning in place.

Parcel “B” is 62 acres. The plan calls for the development of multi-family housing consisting of approximately 176 units, at no more than eight units per building.

According to the project’s planning director, David Maski, Hillsborough officials adopted a Housing Plan Element and Fair Share Plan in 2010 that was in compliance with the New Jersey Council On Affordable Housing (COAH) third round rules.

Since then, COAH has been dissolved and the courts have taken full jurisdiction over the state’s affordable housing process.

The ordinance for the redevelopment plan was introduced in January and was unanimously adopted at a committee meeting on March 13.

At the March meeting, Mayor DelCore said the ordinance did not officially approve immediate development action to be taken, but rather to establish land use standards for the property.

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