Now that Hekemian has substantially reduced the amount of housing units from 221 to 24 in its revised proposed plans for development of the 13-acre United Water property, residents are asking if this will affect New Milford's COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) requirements. COAH creates a formula for how many units each town must build--a formula that has been the subject of multiple lawsuits.
Some officials speculate that these 24 units may all be set aside for affordable housing so that Hekemian can maintain its argument that the low income housing included in the proposed development plan falls under "inherently beneficial" use and, therefore, they should be granted the variance to proceed with the development
Affordable housing has been the crux of Hekemian's testimony. and the borough's need to comply with its affordable housing obligation.
The original site plan application had called for 18 percent, or 40 units, of the 221 residential units be set aside to satisfy New Milford's low housing obligation. Kinsey also testified that the borough's master plan placed the fulfillment of its affordable housing obligation on the United Water property.
According to Kinsey, every 9412 sq. ft. of mercantile use should trigger requirements for one low income unit in a housing plan. Every 5714 sq. ft. of business use should trigger one low income housing unit.
The revised plan includes:
- 70,500 sq. ft. supermarket
- 4300 sq. ft. bank
- 24 multi-family housing units
- 54 parking spaces for housing units
- 6500 sq. ft. restaurant at the north end of the property (This restaurant did not appear on the original site plans. However, it was part of Hekemian's April 2011 presentation at New Milford High School.)
The question on whether or not these proposed 24 housing units will be set aside for affordable housing is expected to be answered at the next Zoning Board meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 11 at Borough Hall at 7 pm. Hekemian's architect, Christian Lessard of Lessard Architectural Group, is tentatively scheduled to appear.