Members of Manchester's Township Council approved the township's $1.5 million affordable housing spending plan during a special meeting held Monday evening.
The special meeting was scheduled based on the belief that the spending plan had to be adopted before July 18 — four years after a 2008 law requiring all municipalities that have collected development fees to commit them to a plan. The council did have more leeway with the date, which was discovered after the meeting was set.
"Since we had already scheduled the meeting because of that deadline, we kept the meeting because we didn't want people to show up and find a sign that said we're not having the meeting," said Council President Craig Wallis.
The plan, which was developed by Thomas Planning Associates, is required by the state Council on Affordable Housing. It is also the first formal report required on how the township will spend this money, which is collected through development fees from the construction of residential and non-residential homes. That money has been deposited in the Manchester Township Affordable Housing Trust Fund, authorized by ordinance in 2002.
"We've never done it before so we have to come up with a written plan," said Business Administrator Elena Zsoldos. "In the past we didn't have to have this spending plan outlined so specific, but now COAH requires it."
According to the 11-page document, the trust fund already contains $994,623. Another $525,000 of projected revenue, which comes from development fees and interest, is expected through 2018. Of that, $365,678 has been set for independent living, which includes funding for Homes for All and Habitat for Humanity, $237,500 is allocated for rehabilitation of "several" low and moderate income units, $706,822 will be used for affordability assistance and $209,624 goes toward administration costs.
This is also the first time that the state Division of Community Affairs wanted to approve the spending plan as well, Wallis said.
Township administrators will next work out the eligibility requirements for those who can apply, based on what COAH outlines.
"[The application process] is still in its infancy stage," Zsoldos said. "We plan on doing some advertisement and it will operate on a first-come, first-serve basis."
The requirements, which are anticipated to be finalized within the "next few months," will be adopted through the council, so the information will be public, Zsoldos said.
A second resolution authorizing an escrow agreement between Manchester, DCA and TD Bank was also approved for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. All council members voted affirmatively for the spending plan and escrow agreement, except for Vice President Brendan Weiner who was absent.
"What this is is making an agreement between us, the state and TD Bank. We have our special fund there," Wallis said.