Cameron W. MacLeod, an Associate in the firm’s Real Property Department, authored an article, “Finding the Outer Edges of ‘Good Faith’ in ‘Mt. Laurel’ Litigation” in this week’s New Jersey Law Journal. An excerpt from the article can be found below. To view the full article, click here. In 2015, the court directed that municipalities revise their housing elements and fair share plans “with good faith” and with “reasonable speed.” In re: N.J.A.C. 5:96 & 5:97, 221 N.J. 1, 33 (2015). Now, four and a half years later, the question of what constitutes “good faith” in these constitutional compliance cases is paramount, as the trial courts are now faced with whether a municipality’s housing element and fair share plan are consistent with the Mount Laurel obligations. The recent trial court decision in In re Englewood Cliffs, as well as the 2016 decision from Judge Wolfson in In the Matter of the Application of South Brunswick, both demonstrate what steps are necessary to establish “good faith” in these cases. Of the 300-plus declaratory judgment actions commenced in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in In re: N.J.A.C. 5:96 & 5:97, 221 N.J. 1 (2015), many have now settled, or are in the process of settling. The result of this process will be measured by the...
Tagged: Mt. Laurel
Appellate Division Holds UHAC Regulations Preempt Local Code Provisions on Affordability Controls for New Developments
In an unpublished decision entitled Avalon Princeton, LLC v. Princeton et al., the Appellate Division has affirmed that certain state affordable housing regulations preempt pre-existing municipal ordinances, setting a period of affordability controls for “at least 30 years” on new construction. Although not precedential, this decision provides insight on how courts may view some of the regulatory framework, particularly regarding municipal versus state regulation of newly constructed affordable units, and potentially forecasts much more flexibility for municipalities in controlling their current and future stock of affordable housing. In order to assure that affordable housing units remain affordable for a period of time, municipalities have long required that properties that are affordable to low- and moderate-income families be encumbered with some form of restrictive covenant running with the land for both rental and owner-occupied properties. The length of term of these restrictions have varied, based on the municipality and the nature of the units, but typically ran for 30 years from the date of first occupancy, and traditionally have automatically expired after that period. Following the introduction of the Fair Housing Act, these standards varied as COAH’s regulations were refined and developed over the course of the various iterations of the First, Second, and Third Round Rules. In 2004, however, the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency...
New Jersey Future Report: Changes to Low Income Housing Tax Credit Selection Criteria Change Locations of Affordable Housing Development
In 2013, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency made significant changes to the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), putting in place caps on development in areas with significant concentrations of poverty and adding additional criteria to encourage development in areas that would grant low- and moderate-income families a better chance at greater economic opportunity. Specifically, these changes encouraged development in transit oriented districts and areas with ready access to public transit, as well as encouraging development in areas with high-quality, well performing schools. In a recent study, New Jersey Future has found that these changes to the QAP have effectively implemented a policy shift in moving a significant amount of affordable housing construction out of poverty-stricken areas and reallocating such construction to more suburban areas of the State. Prior to 2013, roughly half the tax credits awarded were for economically distressed areas; after the changes to the QAP, that allocation is down to approximately 20%. More projects are being awarded tax credits in suburban areas with transit access and quality schools due to these changes in statewide policy as announced in the QAP, and this trend will likely make the limited number of tax credits allocated to urban areas more competitive as well. Click here to read New Jersey Future’s summary of their report.
N.J. Appellate Division Holds that Municipalities are not Obligated to Satisfy “Separate and Discrete” Gap Period Need for Affordable Housing
On July 11, 2016, in an interlocutory appeal, the Appellate Division reversed Judge Mark A. Troncone’s February 18, 2016 order, which had found, as a matter of law, that municipalities were obligated to provide realistic opportunities for the construction of affordable housing for the need that accumulated during the period from 1999-2016 (the “gap period”). In an opinion by Judge Fasciale, the Appellate Division held that municipalities were not required to discretely calculate or satisfy the housing obligations that accumulated during the gap period as part of a municipality’s “prospective need.” In the Appellate Division’s view, those who are living in dilapidated, overcrowded, or cost-burdened housing would be adequately reflected in present need calculations, and any further alterations to municipal obligations would require legislative or executive action. The opinion highlights what appears to be a distinction between the constitutional fair share housing obligation, which had been understood to accrue year after year according the Court’s decision in Mt. Laurel II, and the compliance obligations arising under the Fair Housing Act, which are limited only to satisfying the statutorily prescribed need.
Appellate Division Grants Leave to Appeal to Affordable Housing Decision, While Trial Courts Continue Towards Trial and Compliance Hearings
On April 11, 2016, the Appellate Division issued an order granting a motion by the Township of Barnegat for leave to appeal a decision by the Hon. Mark A. Troncone, J.S.C., designated Mt. Laurel judge for Ocean County, and also granted a number of motions for other municipalities from outside of Ocean County to appear as amici curiae in the case. The order returns the question of methodology – a hotly contested issue – to the Appellate Division. The counties comprising Region 4 (Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean counties) of the Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”) were set to be among the first to hold trials regarding the methodology for determining the municipal fair share housing obligations of municipalities. The grant of leave to appeal in the Ocean County case will necessarily delay any trial in that vicinage until the resolution of the appeal. This post briefly reviews the trial court’s decision, and the potential impact the decision to grant leave to appeal may have on pending declaratory judgment cases.
Gibbons Directors Howard Geneslaw and Lawrence Lustberg to Speak at 2014 New Jersey Planning Conference
Howard D. Geneslaw, a Director in the Gibbons Real Estate Development practice group, and Lawrence S. Lustberg, a Director in the Gibbons Criminal Defense Department, as well as the Director of the firm’s John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law, will both speak at the “2014 New Jersey Planning Conference” presented by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association on January 23-24.
On November 7, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court will be hearing oral argument as to whether the latest regulations adopted by the Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”) are valid. Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, the decision will have a far-ranging impact on the future of affordable housing in New Jersey and is being watched closely by developers, municipalities and public interest groups.