Housing Dispute Advances A Judge Appointed A Planner To Help Edgewater Park Meet Its Affordable-housing Quota.
By Jan Hefler, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF
POSTED: January 03, 1999
EDGEWATER PARK — Last year, the township was sued by a developer who contended the community had not provided sufficient zoning for affordable housing, as mandated by state regulations.
Now, the township’s zoning will be scrutinized. Superior Court Judge Ronald Bookbinder has appointed a professional land-use planner to serve as special master to review the township’s zoning plan and to devise a plan on how Edgewater Park should meet its affordable-housing quota of 50 units. The town must pay the planner’s fee, estimated at up to $5,000.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit by CBD Development Inc. of Mount Laurel is still pending. The complaint seeks zoning to build nearly 300 housing units on two vacant tracts.
CBD and township officials said they had agreed on a lower number in recent negotiations. They said they expected to file a plan with the judge this month. CBD lawyer Mark Vittese said the new number was “much less” than what had been proposed, but he would not elaborate. Township Solicitor Thomas Coleman 3d was unavailable for comment; Township Committeeman Robert Dovey said a compromise had been reached.
Art Bernard, former executive director of the state Council On Affordable Housing, was named special master Dec. 15. He was instrumental in formulating the council’s rules and, after leaving the agency, acted as a consultant to communities that have developed housing plans for low- and moderate-income families. Bernard could not be reached for comment.
Dovey said, “Our solicitor went to the judge to ask for a rezoning, but the judge said to wait because he wanted to appoint a special master to review it. We wanted to change the zone where the Irongate Apartments are located, so that it would be designated for senior-citizen housing.”
Less than one-third of the Irongate’s 296 units are occupied. Township officials want the apartments converted into housing for senior citizens and counted toward the town’s affordable-housing quota.
David Waronker, president of the development firm, said the town had ignored its affordable-housing obligations for years. He said he had filed suit because he wanted to develop land he was acquiring.
Waronker initially wanted to build 220 townhouses on a commercial 13-acre property on Route 130 and 70 homes on a six-acre tract on Beverly-Bridgeboro Road. His suit says he would include the state-mandated 50 units of affordable housing.