Monthly Archives: November 2009

Legislators to Introduce Bill Overriding Court Decision on Affordable Housing

By: Henry T. Chou, Esq.

Lawmakers have reacted swifty to the Appellate Division’s recent decision that affordable housing must be accorded “inherently beneficial” status when proposed in use variance applications, even if a town has already otherwise met all affordable housing obligations assigned by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).

On September 18, two Republican Senators, Phillip Haines of Burlington County and Christopher Bateman of Somerset County, stated that they would introduce a bill to override Homes for Hope, Inc. v. Eastampton Land Use Planning Board, A-5551-07, a case in which the Appellate Division held that a land use board must consider affordable housing proposed in a use variance application as an “inherently use” irrespective of the town’s COAH status.

To obtain a use variance, i.e., approval for a use not specifically permitted under the zoning ordinance, an applicant needs to demonstrate that its proposed project meets both the “positive” and “negative” criteria required by the Municipal Land Use Law. Typically, to satisfy the positive criteria, an applicant must show that the site is specially suited for the proposed use. The negative criteria requires the applicant to demonstrate that the proposed use will not pose a substantial detriment to the public good and will not substantially impair the purpose of the master plan and zoning ordinance.

An affordable housing development included in a town’s COAH-approved compliance plan is considered an “inherently beneficial use” in the same vein as hospitals and schools, with such status presumptively satisfying the positive criteria without the need to show that the site is specially suited for affordable housing. The Appellate Division’s decision in Homes of Hope extended the “inherently beneficial use” status to affordable housing developments that are not part of a town’s COAH compliance plan, i.e., proposed affordable housing that is in excess of the required number of affordable housing units assigned to a town by COAH. The Appellate Division based its holding on the rationale that additional affordable housing is no less beneficial to society just because a town has already satisfied the minimum numerical requirement imposed by COAH.

Based on reports, the bill proposed by the two Republican lawmakers would allow a land use board to deny use variance applications proposing affordable housing if COAH has already granted substantive certification to that town.

Appellate Division Holds Affordable Housing Qualifies as “Inherently Beneficial Use” in Use Variance Applications

By: Henry T. Chou, Esq.

On August 24, 2009, the Appellate Division issued a decision in Homes of Hope v. Eastampton Land Use Planning Board that makes it harder for municipal land use boards to deny use variance applications by developers seeking to build affordable housing. At issue in the lawsuit was whether a 100% affordable housing project proposed by a non-profit developer should have been considered an “inherently beneficial use” by the Eastampton Land Use Board when evaluating the developer’s use variance application.

To obtain a use variance, i.e., approval for a use not specifically permitted under the zoning ordinance, an applicant needs to demonstrate that its proposed project meets both the “positive” and “negative” criteria required by the Municipal Land Use Law. To satisfy the positive criteria, an applicant must show that the site is specially suited for the proposed use. The negative criteria requires the applicant to demonstrate that the proposed use will not pose a substantial detriment to the public good and will not substantially impair the purpose of the master plan and zoning ordinance.

Typically, an affordable housing development included in a town’s COAH-approved compliance plan is considered an “inherently beneficial use” in the same vein as hospitals and schools, with such status presumptively satisfying the positive criteria without the need to show that the site is specially suited for affordable housing. The Appellate Division’s decision in Homes of Hope extends the “inherently beneficial use” status to affordable housing developments that are not part of a town’s COAH compliance plan, i.e., proposed affordable housing that is in excess of the required number of affordable housing units assigned to a town by COAH. The Appellate Division based its holding on the rationale that additional affordable housing is no less beneficial to society just because a town has already satisfied the minimum numerical requirement imposed by COAH.

However, it unclear whether the court’s holding applies the “inherently beneficial use” status only to 100% affordable housing projects (developments that consist entirely of affordable units) or whether it also applies to “inclusionary developments” (developments that contain both market-rate units and affordable units). If the holding applies to inclusionary developments, it could motivate private developers to seek use variances for inclusionary developments on a more widespread basis, and lead to the creation of more affordable housing in the State.

The Appellate Division has remanded the matter back to the Eastampton Land Use Board for further consideration of the use variance application based on the “inherently beneficial use” status of the proposed affordable housing. It seems certain that the Board will petition the Supreme Court for certification of the Appellate Division’s decision. In the meantime, municipal officials across the State are convinced that Appellate Division’s ruling – if left untouched or upheld by the Supreme Court – will make it easier for developers to obtain use variances to build affordable housing, which they fear will generate children and overburden existing schools.

AIA Releases New Version of AIA Contract Documents Software

AIA Contract Documents is excited to announce our new release, which includes innovative solutions that address some of the industry’s latest trends, including Integrated Project Delivery, sustainability and federally funded projects.

Current AIA Contract Documents customers are encouraged to attend a webcast on Tuesday, November 10 to learn about what’s new in our latest software release – http://bit.ly/12TTC2. Earn 1.5 learning units.
Continue reading

This Week in Trenton by PSI

October 30, 2009

Gubernatorial Race Update
A new Quinnipiac University poll has Governor Jon Corzine with a five point lead, 43%-38%, over Republican Christopher Christie – with independent Christopher Daggett at 13%.  This is Corzine’s first lead in a Quinnipiac poll and represents a six point swing for the Governor over a poll conducted two weeks ago by Quinnipiac.

“You could see it coming. Gov. Jon Corzine’s numbers crept steadily up and Christopher Christie’s steadily shrank and now, for the first time, we have Corzine ahead,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “But don’t be in a hurry to mark this election as over.   Christopher Daggett changed it from ‘ABC’ – Anybody but Corzine – to a real three-way scrap.   But a lot of Daggett’s voters say they might change their minds by Election Day.   Where will they go?”

Democrats appear to be returning to Corzine (he’s gained three points in two weeks), while Christie has dropped four points among Republicans during that same time.  However, Christie has increased his lead among independents and is now ahead 45%-30%, six points better than two weeks ago, with Daggett getting 20% of independents.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,267 New Jersey likely voters between October 20-26, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8%.

Assembly Race Update
As the race for Governor continues to tighten, it appears that the Democrats are all but certain to maintain their large majority in the Assembly.
Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers