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Appellate Court upholds Hoboken’s affordable housing demands

Developers should have provided affordable housing, according to ruling

According to a recent court ruling, four developments, including the Harlow on 14th Street and Willow Avenue in Hoboken were required to provide affordable housing.

Four luxury developments in Hoboken may now have to set aside 10 percent of their new residential units as affordable housing, according to a recent unanimous ruling of the New Jersey Appellate Court.

The decision caps nearly a decade of litigation with this most recent appeal brought by Fair Share Housing Center, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to defending the housing rights of New Jersey’s poor and ensuring municipalities provide affordable housing.

A three-judge panel upheld the city of Hoboken’s affordable housing ordinance, rejecting claims from developers that it was invalid.

The decision reverses a 2015 ruling which said the developers of the Harlow, The Artisan on Clinton, Park + Garden, and Vine and Hoboken did not need to provide a 10 percent set aside of affordable housing.

According to the Sept. 30 decision of the appellate court written by Judge Jose Fuentes, the law division “erroneously” granted summary judgment to the developers and “held that the City’s AHO [Affordable Housing Ordinance] did not apply to the developments at issue because the City of Hoboken and its Zoning Board of Adjustment were stopped from enforcing the ordinance due to its collective failure to apply the ten percent affordable housing set-aside contained in the ordinance to any other development between 1988 and 2011.”

Countering gentrification

He wrote that the developers were prohibited from challenging the enforcement of the AHO based on “their expressed waiver of those issues” in litigation three years prior in 2012.

“This court upheld the validity of the AHO in its prior opinion and declared it enforceable against the four developers,” wrote Judge Fuentes. “The trial court did not have the legal authority to adjudicate the issues these developers voluntarily waived in the first case. …”

The 1988 Affordable Housing Ordinance was enacted to counter gentrification that was pushing low-income residents and families of color out of the mile-square city, a point emphasized by Judge Fuentes in the September ruling.

“The 1988 AHO was intended to provide a means to counter the gentrification that was overwhelming the City’s historical character and endangering its demographic diversity,” wrote Judge Fuentes. “The developers who obtained approval to construct these high-end residential properties secured significant variances from the City’s zoning ordinance that substantially increased the value of their projects.  In return, they each agreed to comply with the requirements of the AHO. The City is entitled to receive good faith compliance with these legally valid requirements.”

According to Fair Share Housing Center Inc, under the city’s affordable housing ordinance, the four developments will be required to provide 56 affordable units. The developments constructed a total of 546 units.

Fair Share Housing Center Executive Director Adam Gordon praised the appellate court’s decision.

“Fair Share Housing Center applauds the Appellate Division’s decision yesterday which sends a clear message to developers and municipalities that affordable housing obligations must be complied with,” said Gordon. “Affordable homes are critical to ensuring that new residential development is equitable and that it includes homes for working families of all income levels. At a time of national reckoning on issues of racial justice, it is more important than ever that cities and towns across New Jersey put in place and enforce laws that will help generate affordable housing opportunities for those working families, Black and Latino disproportionately, who have been squeezed by fierce gentrification and rapidly escalating housing prices.”

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.

 

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