Borough accepts Fair Housing study
By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
LONGPORT – Borough officials are concerned that residents will have to leave town to send a letter or package in the U.S. Postal Service. They also accepted a Vacant Land study showing that low-income housing will likely never be built in the borough.
Mayor Nicholas Russo revealed last week that he sent letters to U.S. Senators Corey Booker and Robert Menendez asking for assistance in possibly relocating the U.S. Post Office to space in Borough Hall.
The Post Office lease for the two-story, mixed-use building located at 4 S. 27th Ave. will expire in July 2023. The owner has put the property on the market. With the way properties are being sold lately, it’s likely the property will be razed to make way for a new McMansion.
The Post Office has been serving the community at that location since the 1930s. It is zoned Commercial/Office and has an apartment on the second floor, although the property is being sold for its land value. The 55- by 108-foot lot is currently assessed at $554,300 with the building assessed at $54,000, however, properties in Longport are currently assessed at only 78% of market value. Taxes were $2,021 for 2022.
Russo said the borough does not want to lose the Post Office, which has been an integral part of the community for many years.
“It’s important for our senior population who are not paying their bills online, they are actually using stamps,” he said.
The mayor said the borough might be able to find room in Borough Hall for the US Postal Service to provide automated services for residents.
In other business, the board accepted a vacant land analysis performed by planner Tiffany A. Cuviello. The 24-page report confirms there is no available land to build housing that would comply with the borough’s obligation to build 146 affordable housing units.
“The vacant land analysis for the Fair Housing Law came back as we assumed,” solicitor Michael Affanato said. “There is very little vacant land in the borough to build affordable housing.”
He said the Council on Affordable Housing has been disbanded but may be revived by the governor. The council was charged with enforcing the Mount Laurel decision, which determined that every municipality in the state should be required to provide its fair share of affordable housing.
“The analysis was very well done, and the conclusion is that the borough has no obligation to provide low-income housing, primarily because we do not have any vacant land,” Affanato said.
The borough’s housing element provides an inventory of the borough’s housing stock and demographics, which includes a 10.3% decrease in population as second homeowners move in and rebuild much larger older homes above flood hazard elevations. According to the 2020 Census, only 96 of the borough’s 1,641 housing units were built before 1939.
The report shows that housing values in Longport are much higher than other areas in the county and state, with more than 35% valued over $1 million. The median housing value in Longport is $857,500 as compared to $216,600 countywide. The median household income for families in Longport is $149,821 compared to $78,974 countywide.
According to the COAH Fair Housing Law, the borough’s affordable housing obligation includes a requirement for 146 units, with three coming from housing rehabilitations of homes built before 1950.
The report states that Longport is a “built-out” shore community, with no vacant tracts of land available for development. Any tracts of land that are available are restricted from development due to environmental concerns or are located along the beach or bay.
“The analysis concludes that there are not vacant parcels of suitable size without environmental restrictions located in the Borough of Longport. As such, the borough does not have a Realistic Development Potential,” the report states.
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