COAH News: 96 Townhouses To Be Built in Harding

At the January TC meeting, an agreement between HT and Mt Kemble Associates LLC (a Kushner organization entity) was revealed to the public. The agreement allows Mt Kemble Associates (MKA) to build 96 housing units on the property behind the large office park on Rt 202, north of Blackwell Ave and south of Frederick Place.

The property is owned by the Kushner organization and, if you recall, was the focus of a plan by Morris Township to purchase/annex the land and build soccer fields. Harding scotched that plan thereby keeping the land in Harding. (At the time, Kushner quietly suggested that if HT didn’t allow the sale of the property to MT, they would sell it to a mega-church from Newark.)

The current agreement was forced by MKA because they “intervened” in HT’s affordable housing plan which is pending in front of the affordable housing czar – the so-called Special Master a judge who has absolute power to determine land use using affordable housing as the club. In this case, Harding was able to ensure that access to the 96 units will be through the office park (not Blackwell Ave) and that MTA will pay HT $1 million.

If the plan is approved by the Special Master, sixteen of the 96 units will be designated as low and moderate income. HT’s COAH obligation is not yet defined but is likely in the range 200-300 units.

Note that in this case, 96 total units are being built for HT to get 16 COAH credits. That’s 6 times the number of COAH units. If HT’s COAH obligation is 200-300, then it could mean that HT must allow 1200-1800 new housing units. This is a number that would change the character of HT in terms of land use and school population not to mention taxes. As the authority for these decision is from the NJ Supreme Court as a result of the historic Mt Laurel decision there is precious little a municipality can do.

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