Stanhope making way for age-restricted housing

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    STANHOPE-From industrial zone to high-density residential zone is what the council is proposing for a section of town formerly occupied by the Compac Corporation. Last week the council introduced an ordinance to amend the borough code to provide for a new district to be knows as the "Village Age Restricted" Zone. "The property in question was occupied by Compac. They have left, the building is vacant, and up for sale. It has been for several months. Interest seems to be in redeveloping the property as a high density residential zone," said Mayor Diana Kuncken. According to the proposed legislation, because there is currently no demand for industrial property use within the borough, the zoning change would "prevent the property from becoming a burden to the municipality by encouraging its redevelopment through appropriate rezoning." Borough officials believe that there is a need for age restricted housing and that rezoning the industrial site would allow older individuals an "opportunity to age in a place with cultural and service amenities available with reduced need for the use of a motor vehicle." The borough's zoning ordinance does not currently contain a Village Age-Restricted (VAR) designation, which will be added if the proposed ordinance is adopted. Borough Attorney Richard Stein explained that although age-restricted housing discriminates against people of a certain age, it is allowed under the Federal Fair Housing Act. The age restrictions for this type of housing require that at least one member of the household, owning or renting a unit, be at least 55 years of age. No member of the household may be less than 19 years of age. However, Stein explained, this legislation does not demand that an owner occupy the unit; it may be rented if the tenant's age complies with the restrictions. The council expressed concern regarding the allowance for rentals, but Stein said there are is no way to prevent this type of use of individually owned units. The new ordinance proposes a maximum number of dwelling units of 25 per acre, as well as construction of a meeting room, street lights, and landscaping, and further requires each unit be equipped with an individual washer, dryer, and central air conditioning. In addition, any future development must comply with the Council on Affordable Housing requirement that one "income restricted unit" for each eight "market rate" units be constructed by the developer. The proposed change to the borough's zoning laws will be discussed at public hearing, on Tuesday, March 22.