The number of affordable-housing units coming to the borough will be determined after a fairness hearing in Superior Court in Bergen County on June 20.
That’s when a judge will decide whether the settlement agreement between the borough and the Fair Share Housing Center will satisfy the needs of people seeking low- and moderate-income housing.
The borough of 3,300 people had been in negotiations with the center since 2015 to establish its affordable-housing obligation as mandated by the state under the Mount Laurel Doctrine, which prohibits economic discrimination through land use laws.
Councilman Glenn Pookisian said that if the settlement is found to be “fair and reasonable” to all the parties with a stake in any future affordable housing in town, then the settlement will be approved by Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington. If not, the borough and Fair Share will go back into negotiations.
Under the proposed agreement, the affordable-housing obligation is 287 units, but there’s a “realistic development potential” of 28 units, plus surplus credits of 18, for a total of 46 units. That means the small number of units have a better chance of being built due to existing and soon-to-occur projects in town, such as one at the old Schaefer’s Gardens site and a development by Bergen County United Way.
The units would also be built through policy mechanisms, including the establishment of an accessory apartment program for people in low- and moderate-income brackets and inclusionary zoning.
Pookisian said he’s optimistic. “The state of New Jersey requires us to set aside certain amounts, and we found that it was a balance of satisfying that legal mandate and trying not to change the character of Haworth,” he said.
If the agreement is approved, the borough has four months to amend its affordable-housing ordinance and zoning ordinance, and adopt a Housing Element and Fair Share Plan.
He said the Borough Council had the “unenviable task of responding to the unreasonable demand by Fair Share” for the number of affordable-housing units to be built, before reaching the agreement with the nonprofit. The original number of units, known as the unmet need, was 287.
“We’ve always taken the position that there’s no available buildable properties for any type of significant project, let alone affordable housing,” Pookisian said.
Anthony Campisi, a spokesman for the Fair Share Housing Center, predicted that the agreement will be approved by the judge based on past settlement agreements with other municipalities. Campisi said that since 2015, 285 have entered into settlements with the group.
“We’re really happy to come to a strong agreement that expands opportunities for working families,” Campisi said.
Source: Northjersey record