Municipal Town Hall, Police Station Project Hits Snag In Fair Haven

first_imgThe overlay zones mandate that all future development projects in that business corridor be mixed-use constructions, with commercial properties at street level and housing units on the second and third stories, including a 20 percent affordable set-aside. “The borough is still looking at purchasing a property on River Road. It was made clear in the ordinance we laid out; there were numerous blocks that were identified. The governing body is considering all options,” Casagrande said. The ordinance stated the borough “has not been able to effectively communicate” with the property owner (M&M) and, if the parcel is unable to be acquired by agreement with the owner, “the borough wishes to acquire the property through its power of eminent domain.” Neither the M&M housing proposal nor the borough’s consolidation plan would conform to Fair Haven’s affordable housing plan guidelines. The passage states that future constructions within the eastern commercial district not exceed 20 units per acre, and a conforming project on that site would yield 13 units, three of which would need to be held for low or moderate income tenants or buyers. Though the consolidation plan was unveiled at the beginning of the new year, the borough’s new affordable housing plan, prepared by Heyer, Gruel & Associates, included a passage that described a piece of correspondence issued by M&M to the borough in February. Casagrande said that during the process to identify these lots, the governing body wanted to ensure the site was not located in a residential area. These four blocks, located along or near the River Road corridor, were determined to be appropriate for a project of this scope. Following its closure, the borough entered discussions with Sunoco to purchase the parcel, but Piscataway development firm M&M Realty Partners eventually acquired the property for $1.3 million. The borough is immediately on the hook for one affordable unit, but has an unmet need of 370 units. To cut into that total, the borough has established overlay zones at the United Methodist Church on McCarter Avenue, as well as in its eastern commercial district, which includes theformer Sunoco property. But it turns out the property owner had another plan. He recently sold his property to a developer who envisions townhouse rentals on the site. center_img Borough officials say they can stay flexible. The Sunoco site is not the only site available, said borough administrator Teresa Casagrande. The former Sunoco station, located at 626 River Road, is a 28,000-square-foot corner lot. It closed in 2011. On Feb. 25, the borough passed an ordinance to increase the previously approved budget for the project by $1.62 million, a total the governing body can spend on properties identified in property tax rolls as blocks 25, 29, 30 and 31. According to the plan, this correspondence outlined the development firm’s proposal to construct a three-story rental construction. The proposal called for 24 family rental units, four of which wouldbe set aside as affordable. “I don’t think we anticipated everything coming to a head at once,” Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli said. “There’s a lot happening right now (with this property), and much of it is out of our control. We’ve been working on consolidating these facilities for four years now and it’s not a simple thing to get accomplished, especially when the property we’d like to develop is a property the borough does not own.” FAIR HAVEN – Borough officials were eyeing a former gas station at the intersection of Cedar Avenue and River Road as a suitable location for a new municipal complex housing town hall and the police station. As far as invoking its power of eminent domain to acquire the property, Lucarelli said it would be a last resort, though he noted the governing body adopted an ordinance in October authorizing the borough to do so. M&M would not comment on the matter when contacted April 2.last_img

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