Malinsky discusses housing
West End, 11th Street, 12th Street projects
HAMMONTON—Town solicitor Michael Malinsky spoke about several recent redevelopment matters at the August 29 meeting of town council.
The first topic regarded the 84 apartments that were approved for Hammonton Gardens, located at 882 12th St. Malinsky said that Ordinance No. 012-2016 – Inclusionary Development Zone, adopted on December 19, 2016, addressed the expansion of that complex, the affordable housing that would be provided and the restoration of the existing complex.
Malinsky said that the ordinance had a first and second reading, and has been part of the town ordinances—specifically Section 175-158.1—since that date.
“They were required to construct that addition—or the proposed new buildings—in accordance with Exhibit A of that ordinance, which set forth the number of units and the proposed buildings,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky said that the ordinance was adopted during his first year as town solicitor, when the town was involved in litigation with Fair Share Housing Center.
“Almost all the municipalities of the state of New Jersey were sued back in 2015, and that was one aspect in which that council at the time, in 2016, could address part of its affordable housing obligation,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky also addressed the proposed redevelopment on West End Avenue, Pleasant Street, Orchard Street and Washington Street. Malinsky said those lots and others were deemed in need of redevelopment, a plan was prepared by Karabashian Eddington Planning Group, LLC and a redevelopment plan was adopted back on March 22, 2004.
“To give you an idea, I wasn’t even an attorney yet in 2004 when that was adopted,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky said that there was a builder’s remedy suit filed in 2006 against the town of Hammonton for the development of the West End area that was part of the approved redevelopment agreement.
“That settlement agreement contemplated the development of 59 units on the lots that were set forth in that settlement agreement,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky said that council approved the settlement agreement on July 25, 2011.
“The only thing that’s happened since then is the actual person that was involved in the settlement agreement never developed it, and now someone’s come along and developed it in accordance with the settlement agreement,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky said that Fair Share Housing Center was also involved in the matter, which was contemplated in the litigation from 2015.
“There was a contribution in lieu of affordable housing that was part of that settlement agreement, which we have used to put money an funds in our Affordable Housing Trust Fund so that we’re able to then get the seven units we have set forth in that 2015 settlement agreement to provide owners of rental properties that are currently market-rate to try to get them to deed restrict that to affordable,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky then discussed the redevelopment zone on 11th Street, Washington Street and Egg Harbor Rd. He said that area was part of a settlement agreement dated April 30, 2018 with Fair Share Housing Center.
“Again, besides Hammonton, almost every municipality in the state of New Jersey was sued, because everyone had to show how they had met their prior round needs, second round, and how they were going to meet their third-round obligation,” Malinsky said.
Hammonton’s obligation, Malinsky said, is 276 units.
“That was reduced from what the number was, based on us being in the Pinelands, based on us not being able to expand our sewer infrastructure, based on the fact that Pinelands has restricted us in the past,” Malinsky said.
Councilman Edward Wuillermin commented further.
“Part of that was in consideration of the fact that there was an extensive vacant land analysis that was done; there just isn’t that much land left to build on,” Wuillermin said.
Malinsky agreed, and continued, noting that the redevelopment plan has been a matter of public record, approved not only by council but by the courts to “show a realistic opportunity of us being able to provide affordable housing and meet our affordable housing needs.”
“It’s not as if we found these areas in need of redevelopment all of a sudden. The 12th Street apartments was done back in 2016 and has been sitting on the books—until they actually decided to do this development—for the last six years,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky said that the project is part of the General Ordinances of the Town of Hammonton, which are available online. The West End Avenue area, he said, was part of the builder’s remedy suit in 2006 because the town wasn’t “taking steps to meet our affordable housing needs.”
“I know everyone has a thing about affordable housing, but when you don’t take steps, and you lose your protection because you haven’t taken the appropriate steps to meet your affordable housing need, you could have any builder come in and file a builder’s remedy suit—and the last thing you want to see, I’m sure, is affordable housing in the downtown area or something of that nature. You’d rather be able to dictate where it’s going to be,” Malinsky said.
Wuillermin commented further regarding the proposed West End development.
“The affordable housing obligation was provided in terms of a payment per unit based on our affordable housing need for that project,” Wuillermin said.
Malinsky concurred, and reiterated that none of the proposed units there will be affordable housing.
“There’s going to be a contribution in lieu, and that contribution will go to our Affordable Housing Trust Fund—which there’s a Market to Affordability program if anyone wants to look it up on the DCA’s [New Jersey Department of Community Affairs] website, they can look it up—that we can implement, then we can move forward and reach out to owners of rental properties to see if they want to be part of the Market to Affordable,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky also had two action items during his report. The first, Malinsky said, concerned a new lawsuit filed against “several officers of the town of Hammonton and the town of Hammonton.”
“I am seeking council’s authorization to represent those officers and the town in that litigation,” Malinsky said.
Councilman Thomas Gribbin made the motion; Councilman William Olivo seconded it, and the motion passed unanimously.
For the next action item, Malinsky sought a motion for the mayor to sign the shared services agreement provided by the Hammonton Board Education regarding tennis and pickleball courts at Hammonton Middle School.
“As you are aware, pursuant to the shared services agreement, the school board is paying half of all costs associated with the improvements to the tennis courts and pickleball courts,” Malinsky said.
Councilman Sam Rodio made the motion, which Councilman Steven Furgione seconded.
Mayor Stephen DiDonato explained the agreement.
“Basically, we’re splitting the costs, and we’re going to end up with six resurfaced tennis courts and 12 pickleball courts,” DiDonato said.
Rodio inquired further.
“Once we go out here, what do you think the timeline is? Do you have any idea?” Rodio said.
Town Engineer Mark Herrmann, of Adams, Rehmann and Heggan Associates (ARH), said that the total work would take approximately two and a half months.
During his report, Herrmann had two action items.
The first was to authorize ARH to prepare the construction documents, permitting applications, and provide bidding services for Phase II of the Hammonton Bike Path project, for $26,000, which will be covered by a $745,000 grant for the project.
“The project is going to need to go to the Pinelands Commission, DOT [New Jersey Department of Transportation] as well as the county, so there’s quite a bit of work involved to get there,” Herrmann said.
Wuillermin asked how much of the $26,000 would go toward permitting from the Pinelands Commission; Herrmann estimated approximately $4,000.
Wuillermin commented further, noting that Hammonton is a developed community in compliance with the minimum standards of the Pinelands Commission’s comprehensive management plan.
“The promise of communities that come into compliance under the Pinelands plan was, you would get your prerogative back as a local government to review land development. It seems that has evolved away from that into this two-tiered structure where, no matter what we do as a compliant community, we still have to go to the Pinelands to get their approval,” Wuillermin said.
Wuillermin said that such permits are costly both for the town and for members of the public sector.
“Every time we have a project that has to go to the Pinelands—in an area of the town that’s built up already, where we are in compliance with the minimum standards of the Pinelands plan and our own development ordinances, it’s an additional cost that I don’t think we have to have to pay,” he said.
The next action item was to authorize ARH to prepare the construction documents and provide bidding services for the 11th Street Sidewalk Improvement Project—spanning from the beginning of the existing bike path to Egg Harbor Road—for $9,000, which is covered by a $260,000 grant for the project.
The third action item in Herrmann’s report regarded the 2021/2022 Water Capital Projects. According to Herrmann’s report, Public Works Manager Robert Vettese has been in contact with property owners on Route 54 to obtain utility easements to allow the proposed water main to be relocated outside of the road.
Herrmann asked for authorization for ARH to prepare the revised construction documents, attend meetings with the Municipal Utilities Superintendent and DOT, and provide bidding services for the project, for $7,800.
All three items were approved.
Herrmann’s report also contained the following information items:
• Valley Avenue – Broadway to Central: the contractor has completed the installation of the water main and storm sewer items. The sanitary sewer main replacement is approximately 80 percent complete. The contractor anticipated installing the cured-in-place sewer liner during the week of September 6. Curb construction has also been started. The contractor has submitted Application for Payment No. 2, in the amount of $162,501.64, which ARH reviewed and submitted to the Business Administrator for payment.
• School House Lane – 3rd Street to Rt. 54: The contractor has begun with the reconstruction of the storm sewer and sanitary sewer mains. The road will be closed during construction due to the amount of disturbance within the roadway.
• NJDOT FY2022 Municipal Aid: Old Forks Road: ARH has begun the preparation of the construction plans for the Old Forks Road project. We anticipate scheduling a meeting with the Public Works Director in approximately three weeks to discuss the roadway and utility design prior to submission to the NJDOT for authorization to bid the project.
• Octagon Oil/Vine Street Parking Lot: The lab results have been received and reviewed by
ARH, and the Remedial Action Permit (RAP) has been submitted to NJDEP.
• K&K Linens Property / 224 Vine Street: The building has been demolished and the basement area has been backfilled; the contractor is currently grading the site and performing final restoration and cleanup.
• Mazza Muffler Site / 104 S. Egg Harbor Road: Project plans and specifications for the demolition of the building have been completed. Once confirmation of the grant funding has been received, ARH will coordinate the public bidding of the project with the town.
• Skinner Property / 317 N. Egg Harbor Road: The town has been notified that they have received a $76,932 grant from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund for the remedial investigation of the Skinner property. ARH will prepare a proposal for this work.
• Celona Site Remediation - 130 Railroad Avenue: ARH completed the receptor evaluation at the site and completed the remedial investigation report.
• Water Quality Accountability Act Compliance: All site visits were conducted, and assessments of conditions were performed at the well sites. The Asset Management Plan has been drafted including Asset Management Plan Inventory, criticality rating of water mains, hydrants and valves, and updates to the GIS system.
• Boyer Avenue Pump Station: ARH met with Vettese and made minor design changes to the layout for discussion with the residents. ARH will be finalizing the design and cost estimates after input is received.
• Lake Park ADA Playground/Small Cities: Clearing, grading, paving and construction of the retaining wall have been performed. The playground equipment has been delivered, and the contractor has scheduled the installation of the poured in place rubber surface and equipment for the middle of September. The contractor has submitted Application for Payment No. 2, in the amount of $18,620, which ARH reviewed and submitted to the Business Administrator for payment. The town received additional funding for Phase II of the project in the amount of $400,000. ARH met with the town and architect representatives and are scheduling the survey work.
• Hammonton Middle School Tennis Courts: the project specifications are in final review, and advertising for the project was anticipated to be during the week of August 29.
Vettese had several items of note in his report, including the Boyer Avenue land application overland drip irrigation. Vettese said that a resubmission was made to the Pinelands Commission on August 19 addressing that body’s comment later dated July 13. Vettese said that Supervising Environmental Specialist Ernest Deman confirmed receipt of the resubmission and would contact Vettese following review of the document.
Vettese also discussed well testing and potential for public water extension in the Lakeview Gardens section of Hammonton. Vettese said that door hangars were left at residences and businesses on August 27, and that, as of August 29, his office received eight phone calls in response.
“The purpose of the door hangars was just to get some questions that might be in everyone’s minds, and my phone number is on that particular door hangar. We encourage everyone who received the door hangar, please give the town a call at (609) 567-4300 ext. 101,” Vettese said.
The next meeting of town council will be at 7 p.m. on September 26.