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A proposed settlement between Montgomery Township and the Fair Share Housing Center over the number of affordable housing units that the township must provide is set to be reviewed later this month by Somerset County Superior Court Judge Thomas C. Miller.

Judge Miller will determine whether the settlement reached between the township and the nonprofit group, which calls for 616 affordable housing units, is fair and reasonable and also provides a realistic opportunity to create housing for low- and moderate-income households.

The Fair Share Housing Center, which has sued many towns in New Jersey, had set Montgomery Township's obligation at 975 units. The township and the nonprofit group negotiated and settled on 616 units.

Montgomery Township officials are satisfied with the settlement.

Township Administrator Donato Nieman pointed out that the township already had a plan in place for 598 affordable housing units. The settlement agreement stipulated 616 units, which is only an additional 18 units.

"It made sense to settle. It's a good settlement. It was the right thing to do," Nieman said.

Montgomery Township has always believed in providing affordable housing, Nieman said, adding that it was the first town in New Jersey to be certified under the former state Council on Affordable Housing.

While the settlement sets the township's obligation at 616 units, Montgomery Township has received credit for 355 units, including 201 that have been built plus bonus credits for rental housing. This reduces the number of units that actually have to be built.

Montgomery Township received bonus credits toward its 616-unit obligation for the inclusion of family rentals at Pike Run; a new development on Orchard Road near Route 206; and the Sharbell-Hillside development off Research Road that have been completed.

The township will receive credit for rental apartments that are under construction at the Country Club Meadows development on the east side of Route 206 at Belle Mead-Griggstown Road. The apartments will be built on the second floor of a two-story building that has retail stores on the first floor.

Towns may also receive credit for each bedroom in a group home. Group homes are owned and operated by nonprofit agencies and may be occupied by persons who have special needs or who are in transition. The township has received credits for group homes and will receive additional credits for proposed group homes.

To be eligible for an affordable housing unit - whether for sale or for rent - a household's total income cannot exceed a specific amount. The income limits vary by region, such that the income limits in Region 3 - Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset counties - are higher than in Region 4, which is Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

In Somerset County, the maximum income for a one-person household is $22,134 for a very-low income unit; $36,890 for a low-income unit; and $59,024 for a moderate-income unit.

For a four-person household, the maximum income income for a very-low income household is $31,620 and for a low-income household, it is $52,700. For a moderate-income household, the limit is $84,320.

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