the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, Mayor Hache fills us in on the court mandated forced over development know as Affordable Housing . According to the mayor ,this litigation started in 2015, as a result of the failure of the executive and legislative branches of state government to properly address the development of affordable housing in the state. The Village was mandated by the New Jersey Supreme Court to file a Declaratory Judgement complaint in Superior Court, seeking approval of its adopted housing plan and immunity from builders remedy lawsuits while the decision by the Court was pending.
We have concluded our Court mandated settlement negotiations with Fair Share Housing Center, managed by the Court appointed Special Master, Michael Bolan, PP. The effort was to resolve all issues with FSHC and reach an understanding with the Special Master and all interested parties to present an agreed upon Fair Share and Housing Plan to the Court that satisfies the Village’s obligation to provide for a realistic opportunity for development of affordable housing within its boundaries. A settlement agreement was reached in December 2018. It now needs Court approval.
I feel we reached a good settlement which will serve the community in the long term, and addresses the obligation all municipalities have to provide affordable housing development. First, it gives us immunity from developers’ lawsuits where a developer claims a municipality is not providing its fair share of affordable housing or creating opportunities for affordable housing. Developers who are successful in such suits have the ability to be granted much higher densities than a municipality would normally be comfortable with. The agreement also allows us to maintain the commercial character of our Central Business District. The housing density increases from 12 units to only 18, with a maximum height of 50 feet. Also, the agreement provides the opportunity to create a redevelopment plan for the Valley Hospital site when and if the hospital decides to sell the property to a developer. Redevelopment, combined with the flexibility in the settlement agreement, gives the Village the ability to design the site as we see fit. The Village can identify enhanced design standards for the buildings, be very specific about exactly where we want certain uses in order to protect the character of the area.
The next step is a fairness hearing in Superior Court in February, at which time we hope the settlement will be approved. Thereafter, anticipating approval of the Settlement Agreement, the Village will introduce the necessary ordinances which will be consistent with the approved Settlement Agreement. The matter will return to the Court for Court “certification” of the Village’s affordable housing plan.
Here are the details for the Fairness Hearing:
February 25, 2019 at 10:00AM Bergen County Superior Court – Bergen County Justice Center 10 Main Street, Room 323 Hackensack, NJ 07601