The Citizens Committee on Affordable Housing on Thursday recommended that the township start the long process that would end with the construction of 36 affordable rental units in the southern part of town.
The plan, which officials said has been in the works for years, calls for building the units at the Atlantic Manor Apartments on Atlantic Avenue, which the town could then count toward its state-mandated obligation of affordable homes.
The town would purchase the land, at a cost estimated at $660,000, and the developer of the project would be the Affordable Housing Alliance, according to Jeff Surrenian, township affordable housing attorney.
Because portions of the state’s affordable housing mandates are before the state Supreme Court and legislative moves are afoot to change the agency that oversees them, Surrenian said it was impossible to know how many affordable homes Wall Township will be expected to have.
But, he said, he was confident there would be some requirement.
“It is going to be something,’’ Surrenian said. “And if we can get this behind us, it’s just one less thing we have to worry about.’’
The latest round of affordable housing obligations mandated by the Coalition on Affordable Housing, under which Wall would have been obligated to construct 667 units, are currently awaiting a hearing before the state Supreme Court, Surrenian said.
Meanwhile, moves by Gov. Chris Christie are on target by late August to abolish COAH and bring its responsibilities under the control of the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, Surrenian said.
Those two variables create a dearth of concrete answers for municipalities looking for guidance on what to do about affordable housing, Surrenian said.
“We’re still in a world of uncertainty,’’ Surrenian said.
But through ongoing negotiations with the Atlantic Manor, a proposed deal – not yet inked – seems likely, Surrenian said, giving the township a leg up on whatever regulations may be coming.
“This would be a 36-unit head start,’’ said Township Committeeman Clinton Hoffman, who also sits on the affordable housing committee.
The recommendation now will go to the Township Committee, which could at its meeting next week decide whether to go ahead with introducing an ordinance that would re-zone the site. The Planning Board, if the committee introduced the ordinance, would then hold a public hearing on the zoning. The committee also would hold a hearing on the ordinance, finally ending in a vote on whether to adopt.
“This is the single oldest piece of the (affordable housing) puzzle,’’ Hoffman said. “It was started long before we were all interested in it.’’