Marlboro will pay Trenton to take affordable housing

MARLBORO – To help satisfy the township’s state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) obligation without building additional homes in Marlboro, the Township Council last week approved a resolution authorizing an addendum to a regional contribution agreement (RCA) between Marlboro and Trenton.

The council took the action during a special meeting held June 12.

The RCA will allow officials to transfer the responsibility for building a certain number of affordable homes in Marlboro to Trenton.

Township Attorney Ronald Gordon explained that the resolution would finalize the terms of the agreement which was originally entered into in July 2004.

Gordon said the original agreement provided the cost of transferring 332 affordable housing units to Trenton, but was then negotiated down to 252 units. He said Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik and Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer negotiated back to a transfer of 332 units.

The council unanimously approved a resolution to transfer the money for the 332 units. The funds are in Marlboro’s affordable housing trust fund and have been earmarked for the deal with Trenton.

The affordable housing trust fund includes money that has been paid by developers who built projects in Marlboro, but did not provide affordable housing in their projects. They pay into the trust fund in lieu of building the affordable units.

Gordon said COAH administrators reviewed the agreement between Marlboro and Trenton and had some comments about the amount of money to be paid per unit, which had been increased by the state agency to $25,000 per unit.

Council President Jeff Cantor said the amount to be paid to Trenton by Marlboro will now be $8.3 million ($25,000 x 332 units) instead of the initial $6.6 million ($20,000 x 332 units).

The agreement was approved by Trenton’s governing body on June 11, Gordon said.

Trenton officials may used the money to rehabilitate substandard housing in the city or to construct new affordable housing. Affordable housing is defined by COAH as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to people who have an income that meets regional guidelines established by COAH.

The RCA is the most cost-effective and least intrusive method for Marlboro to satisfy its affordable housing obligation, Hornik said. This RCA was included in Marlboro’s third round COAH plan. Hornik said the current estimate on the number of affordable housing units Marlboro is obligated to fill is about 1,600, although he noted that the 332 units that have now been transferred to Trenton will be deducted from that number.

Cantor credited Hornik for working diligently on the agreement with Palmer as legislation that will eliminate RCAs is pending in the state Legislature.

State Assemblyman Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) has sponsored a bill (A-500) that would eliminate RCAs. The bill was released from committee on June 12 and is expected to come up for a vote before the full Assembly in the near future.

Regarding the pending legislation, Hornik said, “For a town like Marlboro which has a large obligation of affordable housing units, I believe the pending bills that eliminate RCAs are difficult legislation for us to support, however, we are doing what we need to do now.”

Hornik said Marlboro’s agreement with Trenton is legal because the pending legislation which would eliminate RCAs has not been signed into law.

“It’s a good step toward satisfying our obligation, but it is just a step,” Hornik said.