Florence submits COAH plan

Township Council endorses requirements to meet state regulations

By: Scott Morgan
   FLORENCE — The Township Council last week endorsed and submitted its third-round requirements to meet state affordable housing regulations.
   During the Dec. 7 council meeting, officials agreed to submit a plan to the Council On Affordable Housing (COAH) outlining the township’s overall approach to its latest affordable housing obligations. The latest incarnation of COAH regulations demands a greater density of affordable living spaces based not only on residential development, but on new jobs as well. For every eight new houses built and/or 25 new jobs created, one affordable unit must be built or refurbished.
   Florence’s obligation, based on these third round figures, is to provide 153 affordable units. Township Administrator Richard Brook said last week that the numbers will be met through a combination of new units and refurbished houses. The new units will predominantly be comprised of 17 new houses on Olive Street and an undetermined number of units inside the Marcella L. Duffy Elementary School, Mr. Brook said.
   In September, the township government and school district entered into an agreement in which the township will buy the Duffy School for $1 after the school is closed at the end of this school year. As part of the purchase, officials said in September, current classroom and office space will be converted into affordable dwelling space, most likely for seniors. Duffy is currently home to fourth- and fifth-graders in the district, but those grades will be housed at the Florence Township Middle School in the future.
   Mr. Brook added that a number of refurbishing projects are being looked into, including some residences associated with the Mount Holly-based Salt & Light Co.
   The township’s proposal, now in COAH’s hands awaiting certification, includes a revised build-out analysis and lists of approved and anticipated developments, Mr. Brook said. Though he said he expects some of the details to change over the next 10 years (especially since state law requires that COAH plans be revised at least thrice in that time frame), Mr. Brook said the township, as of now, has met its COAH requirements.
   "No one has a crystal ball," he said. "But for now, the township has met (its) guidelines and we can move on."