Swedesboro Hears Presentation About Veteran Housing

swedesboro logoby Robert Holt

SWEDESBORO — The Swedesboro Council heard a presentation from Sam Leone of Conifer Realty at their meeting on Oct. 21. Leone is the Project Director for Conifer, a real estate development and management company specializing in affordable housing.

Leone discussed a preliminary proposal regarding a community of such homes for veterans in Swedesboro. The project included a three-story unit containing 44 one-bedroom apartments, with the rest being a flexible number of three-bedroom apartments and townhomes, according to Leone.

“We have a concept and are just looking for a site,” Leone commented. Conifer’s proposed location would be along Third and Water Street. Fair housing laws prohibits Conifer from limiting rental of the homes to veterans, but Leone noted that the company is allowed to set aside a portion of their project for special needs disabled veterans.

Conifer would not be sole owner of the community of homes. They have a joint agreement with People for People, a non-profit organization that aids those who earn a little too much to qualify for government assistance, but still could use help.

Mayor Tom Fromm spoke highly of People for People. “They’re a great organization,” praised the mayor. “They’ve helped many people in Swedesboro who have ‘fallen through the cracks.’”

Leone explained that the project would include a community room, a library, and an exercise room. There would also be a computer room that “might help a veteran get back into the job market,” he said.

According to Leone there would be no age restrictions at the Conifer project, and residents would be paying a fixed, affordable rent based on their income. “We want this to be a home, and a place for other veterans to visit,” he added.

Fromm questioned the availability of parking spaces in the proposal, which showed 80 units and only 114 parking spaces. But Leone assured Council that the proposal was only a concept, and can be redefined with further discussions.

The mayor declared that he was 100 percent behind the concept. Fromm said the next step would be to send the project to the planning board for planning, parking, and landscaping, and the Council agreed to do so.

Elsewhere, the Council introduced an ordinance that would cancel balances on capital improvements and reappropriate the funding for other projects. Fromm commented, “It’s been recommended by our CFO that we use money that’s already existing so there would be no financial impact on the community.”

Fromm also mentioned that crosswalks were in the works for South, Mechanic, and Franklin Street. East or Chestnut Street may also see one. “There are discussions on redoing other ones in town,” he added.

Also, Councilmember Sam Casella reported that the Environmental Commission had been reorganized between Swedesboro and Woolwich Township, and Councilmember Joanna Gahrs announced that the town’s Christmas Parade would be held on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The Council declared Swedesboro’s recent Jazz Fest a success. Councilmember George Weeks noted that he heard comments from people who had never been in the community before. “They really enjoyed it, and are looking forward to coming back,” Weeks said.

And Councilmember Diane Hale related that she had recently attended a seminar about incorporating the arts in your community. Hale remarked, “Swedesboro gets it, and are already doing a lot of the things that were discussed.”

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Swedesboro NJ
May 20, 2022, 7:44 pm
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