New Jersey Law

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Municipalities: Affordable Housing – So you’ve settled, what is next.

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It has been almost five years since the New Jersey Supreme Court issued the ruling commonly referred to as Mount Laure IV. In re N.J.A.C. 5:96 and 5:97, 221 N.J. 1, 30 (2015). The majority of the municipalities have settled with Fair Share Housing Center (“FSHC”), numerous developers, and the New Jersey Builders Association. DiFrancesco Bateman has been involved in the direct representation of over a dozen municipalities in five counties, as well as being involved in the development of various approaches and strategies for municipalities in general. The firm has been successful is assisting all of our municipal clients in the development of affordable housing plans that have resulted in settlements and a Judgment of Compliance and Repose. This does not, however, end the obligations of the municipalities under the Fair Housing Act. These responsibilities include annual and mid-point review submissions. Moreover, the FHA and the settlement agreements require that on the anniversary of the entry into the settlement, and every year thereafter, the municipality must provide reporting of the status of all affordable housing activity within the municipality. This is to be done through posting the information on the municipal website with a copy of such posting provided to FSHC. The information is to be provided on forms that had previously been developed by the Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”) or on any other forms endorsed by the Special Master and FSHC.

In addition, the FHA includes provisions regarding actions to be taken by municipalities during the ten-year period of protection provided in the settlement agreement. The Courts consider the starting date to be July 2015, when municipalities were to file their compliance actions under Mt. Laurel IV, and ending in July 2025. Accordingly, July 1, 2020 is the date for the filing of mid-point review. As required pursuant to the FHA, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-313, a municipality is required to post on its municipal website a status report as to its implementation of its affordable housing plan, including an analysis of whether any un-built sites or unfulfilled mechanisms continue to present a realistic opportunity and whether the mechanisms to meet unmet need should be revised or supplemented. Such posting is to invite any interested party to submit comments to the municipality regarding whether any sites no longer present a realistic opportunity for the development of affordable housing and should be replaced or modified. The posting by the municipality and any submission by interested parties are to be provided to FSHC. Any interested party may also file a motion to request a hearing before the Court regarding these issues.

In addition, within 30 days of the third anniversary of the settlement agreement, and every third year thereafter, the municipality is to post on its website, with a copy provided to FSHC, a status report as to its satisfaction of its very low income requirements in accordance with the FHA, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-329.1. Interested parties may submit comments to the municipality and FSHC on the issue of whether the municipality has complied with its very low-income housing obligation under the terms of its settlement agreement.

Under Mt. Laurel IV, municipalities that endeavored to comply with the obligations that then in place were factors that the Supreme Court considered to be important in the municipality’s effort to achieve approval from the Court. Although that consideration was somewhat lost in the complicated litigation that ensued, it is likely that adherence to these requirements will serve the municipality in whatever takes place for the Fourth Round. The attorneys at DiFrancesco Bateman are prepared to assist our clients in the continuing obligations to comply with the FHA and to assist in addressing any issues that may arise in during the compliance period.

DiFrancesco, Bateman, Kunzman, Davis, Lehrer & Flaum PC (http://www.dbnjlawblog.com) is a full service law firm in New Jersey which provides a broad range of legal services.

The information contained in this blog is intended solely for informational purposes; it is a advertising publication of DiFrancesco, Bateman, Kunzman, Davis, Lehrer & Flaum P.C.This publication is intended to alert recipients of developments in the law and is not intended to provide legal counsel, advice or opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended as general information only. You are urged to consult a member of this firm or your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you might have.