Council Kills Affordable Housing Ordinance

The council questioned why all affordable housing mandates would be crammed along South Broad Street.

Short two members, the Ridgewood Village Council emphatically voted down an that would have given the go-ahead to cram an undetermined number of affordable housing units along South Broad Street.

Mayor Keith Killion, to the state’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) mandates, which are currently locked in a legislative and judicial gridlock, told residents that there were two chief concerns with Village Planner Blais Brancheau’s ordinance, which would have created two affordable housing unit zones in the village along South Broad Street–south of Leroy Place (AH-2) would be residential only while the zone north of Leroy Place would be mixed-use commercial/residential (AH-3).

“The system leaves a lot to be desired,” the mayor said, adding that the council's obligations extended beyond a few property owners, but to stakeholders in Trenton, a precarious position given the state of flux.

Attorney Charles Collins, representing gastroenterologist Dr. Anna Korkis, approached the council during public comment stressing that his client–who wants to construct a 5,000 square foot office on the vacant property at 200 South Broad, currently zoned "B-2"–would be unfairly required to provide two-to-three affordable housing units should the ordinance have passed. Collins reported it would have cost the doctor over $750 to $1150 monthly, respectively.

“She considers it an abuse,” Collins said of the rejected ordinance proposed.

Korkis filed a site plan application in January was rejected at the 11th hour, Collins said, the same time Brancheau’s ordinance in the planning board was in the works. The locally-noted lawyer also said that given COAH’s undetermined state, the council should not rush into a decision.

Councilman Stephen Wellinghorst, who as an attorney is well versed in the headaches of COAH, which he called good in theory but poor in practice, remarked that he had problems with the AH-2 and AH-3 zones being the only village areas with affordable housing designations.

“I don’t get it,” he said, tacking onto a comment that resident Boyd Loving had made earlier. Loving said Brancheau’s rationale for the one designated area “wasn’t entirely clear” and opposed the measure, as did several other residents.

Deputy Mayor Tom Riche said the council needs to develop a plan that isn’t an “overreaction” and said time should be taken to thoroughly vet options as they develop.

The council is currently meeting its obligation of providing for 20 affordable housing units in the village, though previous plans called for over 800 units to be constructed, which officials said would require skyscrapers to be built in the village.

The unanimous voting was met with applauds by the audience. Eventually though, the council will eventually need to develop an affordable housing plan, or as Planner Brancheau said at the recent planning board meeting, it could be open to lawsuits from those who qualify for affordable housing but cannot find units.

Council members Paul Aronsohn and Bernadette Walsh were absent from the voting.

Chris Peters April 15, 2011 at 04:09 PM
glad to hear this!
Brittany October 08, 2011 at 03:50 AM
I live in a low income housing unit. It's a one-bedroom apartment. I live alone with my mother. I'm a recent college graduate and have 2 jobs. I can't afford to live on my own, and neither can my mother. Although we dream of moving to a quieter place that is all our own, unfortunately this is all we can afford. Ridgewood is a nice town, and we live walking distance to be able to support local businesses when we go out to eat, but it feels as if the town doesn't want us, looks down on us, and as the person above said, consider us "rubbish." I really am a good kid who stays out of trouble, and my mother is an excellent woman who does a lot for the community, but we each have low paying jobs. Why aren't we allowed to have the opportunity to live amongst the community we grew up in just because we don't make a certain amount of money?
Chris Peters October 08, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Brittany, thanks for sharing and for being so honest! Its all about Inclusion, its a wonderful word - a true community is full of people in all shapes and sizes, abilities AND income brackets. Ridgewood has the potential to be a model community of Inclusion. so we must ignore the ignorant comments and keep moving forward.
Paul Aronsohn October 10, 2011 at 12:02 PM
Brittany -- Thank you for sharing your story. As Chris notes, Ridgewood is an inclusive community -- one that welcomes people of all economic means. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to any one of us on the Council. You can get us through the Village website -- www.ridgewoodnj.net . Best, Paul Aronsohn
Jess Guy April 14, 2014 at 02:54 PM
To qualify for affordable housing you have to be a very special blend of having money saved, having a steady income to prove you will be able to afford your new place, having an excellent credit history and not a lot of debt, and having achieved those qualities without making "a lot" of money. While a high rise would hurt the appearance of the village, in my opinion the people living in it, would not. Also, affordable housing is not necessarily discounted, it is just constructed or maintained with cheaper finishes that a for-profit builder would not necessarily choose because they lessen the value. That is what makes it affordable. Think linoleum, carpet, fluorescent. Some of the comments are very hurtful and I hope this information helps change some opinions of affordable housing recipients.


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