Evesham Reviewing A Shift At Affordable-housing Site

Posted: November 02, 1995

EVESHAM — The planning board tonight will review a proposal for a major subdivision on Evesboro Road that would help fulfill the township's affordable-housing obligation - by having the developer pay for housing in Gloucester City.

Planning board members have scheduled their first formal review of Hearthstone at Evesham, a 125-unit subdivision to be located on 27.6 acres at Evesboro-Medford, Church and Evesboro-Mount Laurel Roads.

The planning board attorney, Jeffrey I. Baron, has been hashing out an agreement among the township, the Orleans Corp. and Gloucester City to have Orleans pay $800,000 toward rehabilitating low- and moderate-income housing in Gloucester City.

That would release Orleans Corp., a subsidiary of FPA Corp. of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., from the requirement under township ordinances that it build 40 affordable-housing units at the Hearthstone site.

Maureen D. Williamson, an attorney for Gloucester City, said the $800,000 could cover the costs of rehabilitating about 40 of the city's deteriorating rowhouses.

The Hearthstone site is in the township's affordable-housing zone. Housing built in that zone must help meet the township's total obligation for 553 affordable-housing units. Thus far, approximately 37 such units have been built, said Brian T. Havir, who oversees affordable-housing efforts in the township.

The state Coalition on Affordable Housing, which oversees townships' obligations for building low- and moderate-income housing, allows for this type of deal, called a Regional Contribution Agreement. In an RCA, a township can transfer the affordable-housing obligation to another municipality when a developer will pay the costs.

Howard Bronstein, a planning board member who supports the township's participation in RCAs, said the proposed agreement is more realistic for the site than the current affordable-housing requirements.

"I never agreed with the concept with regard to low- and moderate-income housing in Marlton. How could you take the folks in Camden and just dump them in Marlton, because the cost of living is so high?" Bronstein asked.

Other township officials were less enthusiatic about the proposed RCA deal with Gloucester City.

"I feel as though every town has an obligation to provide affordable housing," said Mayor Gus Tamburro. "I don't like the idea that we would be exclusionary. . . . Parents in this town have grown children who may only be able to live here through affordable housing."

The parties involved said they have not reached a final agreement on terms and need the approval of the township council and planning board, Bronstein said.

The board meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the municipal building.

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