COLLEEN O’DEA | AUGUST 10, 2017
Judge ruled South Brunswick must build 3,000 units of affordable housing, but township wants decision set aside due to ‘appearance of impropriety’
New Jersey’s only municipality to receive its affordable-housing obligation from a judge’s order is continuing to appeal that number, even as construction is underway on the first new developments since the Supreme Court got back in the middle of the Mount Laurel housing controversy. The township is claiming the Superior Court judge was compromised by a relationship with the developer.
It’s been almost two-and-a-half years since the state’s highest court took control of affordable housing matters away from the “moribund” New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing and tossed it back to the courts, which had been the original deciders of low- and moderate-income housing claims following the Supreme Court’s landmark Mount Laurel rulings. In those cases, which date back to 1975, the court ruled that municipalities must zone for their “fair share” of their regional need for affordable housing.
The cases have been slowly winding through the Superior Courts throughout the state. The Fair Share Housing Center, the Cherry Hill-based organization leading the legal efforts to get more homes built, has reached settlements with 120 municipalities to construct more than 36,000 units from Bergen to Camden counties. Construction has even begun on projects in Woodbridge, Cherry Hill, Westfield, and Edison, welcome news to housing advocates after the process had been stalled by lawsuits and lack of action by COAH for about 16 years.
Other municipalities remain in the courts. For instance, a Mercer County judge is expected to rule within the month on the obligations for several communities in Mercer.