Affordable Housing

affordable housing graphic

In 1975 the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in South Burlington County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel, which decision has shaped the issue of affordable housing in New Jersey ever since. 

That decision, and a subsequent decision in 1983, determined that every municipality in New Jersey has an affirmative obligation to provide for affordable housing within its boundaries. It also led to the adoption of the State’s Fair Housing Act in 1985 and the creation of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), which became the state agency responsible for overseeing the manner in which municipalities address their low and moderate income housing obligations.

COAH initially adopted affordable housing regulations and housing-need numbers for municipalities for the years 1987 through 1999, but following 1999, they utilized a different approach to determining affordable housing need which resulted in legal challenges, with the Courts continually invalidating their various approaches ever since. Finally, in 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that COAH had become “dysfunctional” and had the Courts take over the process.

Since then, two groups – one representing a consortium of municipalities and one representing the Fair Share Housing Center, a housing advocacy group – have prepared affordable housing-need numbers for all municipalities in the State. The two groups’ numbers for the Town of Boonton are wildly divergent. For example, for the period encompassing years 1999 through 2025, the
consortium’s experts have determined that Boonton has an affordable housing obligation of five units, whereas Fair Share Housing Center’s experts have determined that Boonton has an affordable housing obligation of 402 units for the same period. The numbers set forth by these two groups have been the subject of court cases throughout the State over the past two years, and no final decisions on these numbers have yet to be made. However, irrespective of these numbers, the Courts do allow municipalities that are fully developed, such as Boonton, to seek an adjustment from these preliminary determinations based on the fact of their lack of vacant, developable land.

The Town of Boonton has engaged Burgis Associates, Inc. (www.burgis.com) to prepare an Affordable Housing Plan that identifies the Town’s realistic development potential based on the Town’s lack of developable property, and how it may address an ‘adjusted determination’ of affordable housing-need. Burgis Associates, Inc. is an award winning community planning firm with a wealth of experience in the area of affordable housing. The firm and its planners have been actively involved in this issue since the New Jersey Supreme Court rendered its initial Mount Laurel decisions and has, to date, prepared plans for more than seventy-five communities. Additionally, the firm’s president and principal planner, Joseph Burgis, a recognized state expert, has been appointed Court Master in numerous cases regarding affordable housing, where he is charged with assisting courts in evaluating the viability of municipal housing plans.

Update stamp in red

September 19th, 2018

We are happy to report that the Town has entered into a Judge approved settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing Center (www.fairsharehousing.org) to define our obligations with respect to affordable housing and the mechanisms by which the Town will meet those obligations.  The public hearing of the plan was held at the August 8th planning board meeting (Town Hall - 7:30pm).

Click here to view the public notice.

The affordable housing Compliance Hearing scheduled for September 21, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. at the Morris County Courthouse has been cancelled

As was reported in a past newsletters, Fair Share Housing Center is legally challenging every municipality throughout the State to increase the availability of affordable housing. While we recognize the need, affordable housing obligations cannot come at an enormous financial cost or at the expense of our community identity, unreasonable population growth, and other important factors. Thank you to our Town attorney Dorsey & Semrau - Fred Semrau, Town planner H2M – Jeff Janota, and affordable housing planning firm, Burgis & Associates - Joe Burgis for your expertise. Thank you for representing Boonton’s tax payers to protect them from future litigation (through 2025), avoiding an unreasonable housing obligation that would change small-town Boonton, and for helping us do our part to create affordable housing opportunities for those in need. On May 4th, 2017, the settlement agreement and affordable housing plan were approved by Judge Nergaard, the Morris County judge hearing Boonton's case.

The affordable housing Compliance Hearing scheduled for September 21, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. at the Morris County Courthouse has been cancelled

Legal Notice (September 21st Compliance Hearing):

TOWN OF BOONON


NOTICE OF COMPLIANCE HEARING FOR THE TOWN OF BOONTON, COUNTY OF MORRIS, REGARDING THE TOWN’S HOUSING ELEMENT AND FAIR SHARE PLAN AND COMPLIANCE WITH ITS OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING TO LOW- AND MODERATE-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS

 

DOCKET NO.: MRS-L-1636-15

 

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that on Friday, September 21, 2018, beginning at 1:30 p.m., there will be a Compliance Hearing before the Honorable Maryann L. Nergaard, J.S.C. at the Morris County Courthouse, Washington & Court Streets, 5th Floor, Courtroom #17, Morristown, New Jersey 07963.


The purpose of the Compliance Hearing is for the Court to consider the entry of a Final Judgment of Compliance in favor of the Town of Boonton, based upon the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan, implementing resolutions and ordinances, and other supporting documentation submitted to the Court.


Entry of a Final Judgment of Compliance would declare the Town of Boonton in compliance with its obligation to provide realistic opportunities for the creation of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households as required by the New Jersey Constitution and the New Jersey Fair Housing Act of 1985, as amended. Entry of a Judgment of Compliance would bar for ten years any claim that the Town of Boonton is failing to provide a sufficient, realistic housing opportunity for the creation of housing for low- and moderate-income households.


The Court approved a Settlement Agreement between the Town of Boonton and Fair Share Housing Center on May 4, 2018. In accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the Town of Boonton has proposed a revised Housing Element and Fair Share Plan and is adopting various ordinances amending its zoning ordinance, as well as resolutions implementing that settlement. The Court will consider whether the Town of Boonton has complied with its obligations under the Settlement Agreement and whether  Housing Element and Fair Share Plan will satisfy the Town of Boonton’s obligation to provide a realistic opportunity to satisfy the Town of Boonton’s Rehabilitation, Prior Round, and Third Round “fair share” of the regional need for housing affordable to low-income and moderate-income households pursuant to the Mount Laurel decisions and their progeny, the Fair Housing Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301, et seq., the substantive, applicable regulations of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”), the New Jersey Supreme Court’s March 10, 2015 decision in In the Matter of the Adoption of N.J.A.C. 5:96 and 5:97 by the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing, 221 N.J. 1 (2015), and other applicable laws.


The Housing Element and Fair Share Plan fully addresses the existing components of the Town of Boonton’s affordable housing obligations for the period 1987-2025, including the Town of Boonton’s Present Need Obligation (or rehabilitation obligation) of 25 housing units, its Prior Round obligation of 11 housing units, and its Third Round new construction obligation of 261 units. The Housing Element and Fair Share Plan provides a detailed list of the Town of Boonton’s total affordable housing obligation and compliance mechanisms demonstrating the Town of Boonton’s compliance with those affordable housing obligations. The full text of the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan, the implementing ordinances and resolutions, and other required documents are available for public inspection and/or photocopying at the Town Clerk’s Office at Town Hall, 100 Washington Street, Boonton, NJ 07005, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The documents are also posted on the Town of Boonton website at www. boonton.org.


On the date of the Hearing, the Court will conduct a Compliance Hearing to determine whether the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan is fair to low- and moderate-income households and creates a realistic opportunity for satisfaction of the Town of Boonton’s affordable housing obligations. The Town of Boonton will seek a Judgment of Compliance and Repose, subject to appropriate conditions, if any, which may be imposed by the Court, and which Judgment of Compliance will entitle the Town to protection from any Mount Laurel Builder’s Remedy lawsuit for a period of ten years.


Any interested person may seek to appear and be heard at the September 21, 2018 Hearing and shall have the opportunity to present any position on the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan. Objections or comments by any interested person must be filed with the Court at the above address on or before September 7, 2018, with duplicate copies forwarded by mail and email to the attention of the following:


Susan C. Sharpe, Esq.

Dorsey & Semrau, LLC

714 Main Street

Boonton, NJ 07005

ssharpe@dorseysemrau.com


Joshua D. Bauers, Esq.

Fair Share Housing Center

510 Park Boulevard

Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

joshbauers@fairsharehousing.org


Joseph H. Burgis, PP, AICP

Burgis Associates, Inc.

25 Westwood Avenue

Westwood, NJ 07675

jhb@burgis.com


This Notice is provided pursuant to Order of the Court and is intended to inform interested parties of the proposed entry of a Final Judgment of Compliance and the possible consequences of the entry of such a judgment. This Notice does not indicate any view by the Court as to whether the Town of Boonton is in compliance with its obligations under the New Jersey Constitution and the New Jersey Fair Housing Act of 1985 or whether the Court will enter a Final Judgment of Compliance.


/s/ Cynthia Oravits

CYNTHIA ORAVITS, TOWN CLERK

TOWN OF BOONTON

Legal Notice (May 4th Fairness & Prelim Compliance Hearing):

TOWN OF BOONTON

NOTICE OF FAIRNESS AND PRELIMINARY COMPLIANCE HEARING FOR THE TOWN OF BOONTON, COUNTY OF MORRIS, REGARDING A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT RELATED TO THE TOWN’S OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING TO LOW- AND MODERATE-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS

 

DOCKET NO.: MRS-L-1636-15

 

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that on May 4, 2018, beginning at 10 a.m., there will be a Fairness and Preliminary Compliance Hearing (“Hearing”) before the Honorable Maryann L. Nergaard, J.S.C. at the Morris County Courthouse, Washington & Court Streets, 5th Floor, Courtroom #17, Morristown, New Jersey 07963.

The purpose of the Hearing is for the Court to consider whether the terms of a settlement agreement (“Settlement Agreement”) between the Town of Boonton (“Town”) and Fair Share Housing Center (“FSHC”) will meet the Town’s obligation to provide a realistic opportunity to satisfy the Town’s rehabilitation, Prior Round, and Third Round “fair share” of the regional need for affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households pursuant the Mount Laurel decisions and their progeny, the Fair Housing Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301, et seq., the substantive, applicable regulations of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”), the New Jersey Supreme Court’s March 10, 2015 decision in In re N.J.A.C. 5:96 & N.J.A.C. 5:97, 221 N.J. 1 (2015), and other applicable laws.

The Settlement Agreement fully addresses the existing components of the Town’s affordable housing obligations for the period 1987-2025, including the Town’s Present Need Obligation (or rehabilitation obligation) of 25 units, its Prior Round obligation of 11 housing units, and its Third Round new construction obligation of 261 units.  The proposed Settlement Agreement provides a detailed list of the Town’s total affordable housing obligation and compliance mechanisms demonstrating the Town’s compliance with those affordable housing obligations.  The full text of the Settlement Agreement is available for public inspection and/or photocopying (at requestor’s expense) during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Town Clerk’s Office located at Town Hall, 100 Washington Street, Boonton, NJ 07005 and is posted on the Town’s website at www.boonton.org.

On the date of the Hearing, the Court will conduct a Fairness Hearing to determine whether the Settlement Agreement is fair to low- and moderate-income households and creates a realistic opportunity for satisfaction of the Town’s affordable housing obligations.  The Town will seek a Judgment of Compliance and Repose formally approving the Settlement Agreement, subject to appropriate conditions, if any, that may be imposed by the Court, which Judgment of Compliance and Repose will entitle the Town to protection from any Mount Laurel builder’s remedy lawsuits for a period to be determined by the Court.

Any interested person may seek to appear and be heard at the May 4, 2018 Hearing on the Settlement Agreement and shall have the opportunity to present any position on the Settlement Agreement. Objections or comments by any interested person must be filed with the Honorable Maryann L. Nergaard, J.S.C., Morris County Courthouse, Washington & Court Streets, 5th Floor, Morristown, New Jersey 07963 on or before April 20, 2018, with duplicate copies forwarded by mail and email to the attention of the following:

Susan C. Sharpe, Esq.

Dorsey & Semrau, LLC

714 Main Street

P.O. Box 228

Boonton, NJ 07005

ssharpe@dorseysemrau.com

Joshua D. Bauers, Esq.

Fair Share Housing Center

510 Park Boulevard

Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

joshbauers@fairsharehousing.org

Joseph H. Burgis, PP, AICP

Burgis Associates, Inc.

25 Westwood Avenue

Westwood, NJ 07675

jhb@burgis.com

This Notice is provided pursuant to directive of the Court and is intended to inform interested parties of the proposed Settlement Agreement and inform such parties that they are able to comment on the Settlement Agreement before the Court reviews and evaluates whether to approve the Settlement Agreement. This Notice does not indicate any view by the Court as to the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the Settlement Agreement or whether the Court will approve the Settlement Agreement.

__________________________________

Cindy Oravits, Town Clerk

Town of Boonton