HAZLET – At the November 8 Township Committee meeting, Special Counsel Michael J. Edwards with Surenian and Associates of Brielle, explained Hazlet’s current Round Three affordable housing obligation and described how best to move forward. The governing body later approved the preliminary affordable housing compliance plan, part of its draft settlement agreement with Highview Homes, at the meeting, 2-1. Highview Homes filed a “builder’s remedy” lawsuit against Hazlet in November, 2015.
Here are his own words:
“Judge Jacobson, who is a judge in Mercer County, did a 41-day trial on Fair Share. She found that the Round Three obligation was 406 units. A prior round obligation was 412, so roughly speaking, Hazlet’s new construction obligation is 800 affordable units.
“What you are saying to the court, ultimately, is ‘Judge I don’t have enough land to do 800 units.’ You’re saying in this settlement agreement: ‘Judge, I have enough land to do 116 units’ – or roughly an eighth of what your reported constitutional obligation is.
The way you achieve those 116 units under this settlement agreement is with units associated with Highview Homes; 63 units on the Stone Road site; and then accommodation of prior cycle credits (already existing credits) and bonus credits.
The units lost through the adjustment process – in other words the difference between 800 and 116 – is referred to as your ‘unmet need.’ You also have an obligation in respect to that.
Typically when unmet need is of that magnitude, roughly 700 units, it requires extensive overlay zoning. So you put additional zoning in place that givesthe landowner the option to provide affordable housing if they redevelop. In this particular case, the agreement contemplates no overlay zoning. So in terms of your large unmet need, it only combines technique you have envisioned in this settlement agreement as a mandatory set aside ordinance.
The mandatory set aside ordinance, all it does is it makes the township capture affordable housing in the event that it permits multi-family development. So if there is some use variance or something like that, and some developer comes in and says I want to do multi-family, the township is still in control and can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the application. But if they say ‘yes,’ a mandatory component would be that they capture affordable housing.
If the parties enter into this settlement agreement, the next step would be they would go before the court for what is called a fairness hearing. If the court says: ‘Township, I find this settlement and the term sheets (the term sheet contains your global compliance techniques) to be fair and reasonable to low and moderate income households, then you’ll have some period of time to reduce the preliminary terms, and do a final compliance plan and seek a judgement of compliance proposed on that plan.
The judgement of compliance proposed will give you insulation from further builders’ remedy suits between now and 2025. That’s going to be a lot of procedure between now and then…
…One thing that is unique, and that’s different than your last settlement, is that when you initially envisioned Stone Road to produce 63 affordable units, it was in the context of typical inclusionary zoning where the entire thing would be family rental and 63 of the 312 units would be affordable to lower- to moderate-income households.
Now your market rate units are going to be senior. 249 of the 312 units will be for senior, 63 will be affordable to families which mitigates tax on the school and tax on traffic and things of that nature.”