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Contact: John Nalbone
Office of Communications & Public Information
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ROBBINSVILLE & FAIR SHARE HOUSING CENTER (FSHC) REACH SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ - (January 12, 2017) – Robbinsville Township and Cherry Hill-based Fair Share Housing Center have reached a settlement of the litigation regarding the Township’s compliance with its affordable housing obligations, also referred to as the "Mount Laurel Doctrine."
Robbinsville Township Council passed a resolution on January 12, 2017 agreeing to the settlement, which calls for the town to generate an additional 146 units. Robbinsville has agreed to accept a prospective obligation of 638 affordable units, many of which have already been built and/or designated as affordable because Robbinsville, despite the inaction of the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and uncertainty concerning affordable housing requirements, continued to pursue implementation of its Third Round Plan previously-approved by COAH. The settlement must be reviewed and approved by the Superior Court in Mercer County.
"We are pleased with the settlement, and are grateful the Fair Share Housing Center and the Court have recognized our efforts as one of the leaders in affordable housing in New Jersey," Mayor Dave Fried said. "We are extremely proud of that distinction."
The settlement acknowledges that the Township has met its entire Prior Round Obligation and significant portions of its Present Need or Rehabilitation Share, along with its Third Round or Prospective Obligation (through 2025). The Township’s planner in this matter, Shirley M. Bishop, will prepare a Fair Share Plan that identifies specific sites and mechanisms for meeting the remainder of its Present Need and Third Round obligations that offer a realistic opportunity for the development of housing affordable to lower-income households, including families, people with special needs and very-low-income households. The Township and FSHC have agreed to settle this litigation by requesting that the Court find the Agreement fair to the interests of lower-income New Jersey residents. The settlement also entitles the Township to protection from Mount Laurel litigation for a period of 10 years through the Third Round.
In December of 2015, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson accepted the recommendation of Court-appointed Special Master Elizabeth C. McKenzie, who praised Robbinsville’s preparation and thoroughness of its preliminary housing plan. The Court noted that Robbinsville had earned a higher presumption in its favor by previously obtaining Substantive Certification from COAH. The Court has continued Robbinsville’s immunity from builder’s remedy lawsuits throughout the proceedings.
"We once again would like to thank Judge Jacobson for her acknowledgment of Robbinsville’s continued efforts to provide its fair share of affordable housing. She was incredibly fair,’’ Mayor Fried added. "We will continue to meet our lawful affordable housing requirements now and well into the future. Our goal now is the same as it was when we began this process, and that is to continue to provide existing and new affordable housing in realistic and attainable numbers and at a sustainable pace based on the existing conditions in the Township.’’