What is Overlay Zoning and why does Mendham Borough need one?
As a part of the Borough’s settlement with Fair Share Housing Center, Council adopted on July 15, 2020 Ordinance #08-2020, 2020. This ordinance involves what is called an “overlay zone” on the Daytop property.
By way of background, to have immunity from builder’s remedy lawsuits and be protected from court-ordered high-density development that could be placed anywhere in our community, the Borough must obtain “substantive certification,” an Order from the Court that demonstrates the Borough has met its affordable housing development obligation. To accomplish this, we negotiated a settlement with Fair Share Housing Center under which we could identify a property that would be subject to overlay zoning.
Overlay zoning is an alternate zoning option that is added to, and does not change, the existing zoning of the site. It provides an expanded option of land use for the property owner. Although the overlay zoning may never be utilized and the property may never be developed, we will still be in compliance with our affordable housing plan and able to obtain substantive certification.
The property we identified for overlay zoning is the Saint John’s property, where the Daytop facility is currently located. We chose this site because it would completely satisfy our affordable housing shortfall and help us receive substantive certification. We looked for a single property that could meet this goal, as opposed to multiple properties throughout the Borough, to avoid ending up with 3 to 10 multi-family housing projects scattered throughout our town in backyards or established neighborhoods. This property, in our opinion, has a remote possibility of being developed for a number of reasons:
There is no sanitary sewer available.
The affordable housing set aside of 20% affordable units is undesirable and costly for developers.
The property has an existing structure and facility that would have to be torn down.
The Sisters who own the property have unequivocally expressed that they have no interest in selling or developing the property for residential use and prefer to maintain the Daytop facility.
When will the public get to comment on specifics of the project itself, like lighting, traffic, and exterior appearance?
Before the developer begins building the project, they will be required to go through all of the regular land use processes. This project will come before the Planning Board. It is at those meetings that the public will learn about the specific details of the project and have the opportunity to comment. We will not know when these meetings will take place until the developer files the corresponding applications. The timeframe of when these apartments will be built is up to the developer.
When can you apply for one of the affordable housing units?
Once the developer begins the project it is required by the Court that an Administrative Agent be hired to market and rent the affordable units. At that time, you will be able to apply. It is important to remember that this project will have a special Veteran’s exemption, which means that the first 60 days of the application period will be reserved for Veterans to apply for these units. The Borough will advertise the process and procedures to the public once they are established, well in advance of completion of the project.
I hope this and the previous articles have helped to shed some light on this complicated process. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about New Jersey’s affordable housing process and the requirements for municipalities. We will continue to keep you informed as this moves ahead.
Very Truly Yours,
Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner