FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: John Nalbone
Office of Communications & Public Information
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SUPERIOR COURT EXTENDS TOWNSHIP’S LAWSUIT IMMUNITY UNTIL JUNE, 2016
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ - (December 21, 2015) – New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson on Wednesday accepted the recommendation of court-appointed Special Master Elizabeth C. McKenzie that Robbinsville Township remain immune from “Builder’s Remedy Lawsuits” until June, 2016.
A “Builder’s Remedy Lawsuit” is a legal action taken by a property developer in an attempt to force a municipality to change its zoning requirements to permit construction of a large, multi-family housing structure or complex.
The Special Master praised Robbinsville’s preparation and thoroughness of its preliminary housing plan, which was prepared by the Town’s Planner, Shirley Bishop. According to special counsel Robert Beckelman, who is handling this matter for the Township and appeared at the court conference, the Special Master noted that Robbinsville has done everything the court asked for leading up to the December 16 conference, The court further noted that Robbinsville had earned a higher presumption in its favor by previously obtaining substantive certification from the Council on Affordable Housing, or COAH.
Robbinsville is among many of New Jersey’s municipalities being sued by the Cherry Hill-based Fair Share Housing Center, which is seeking to force Robbinsville to build slightly over 1,000 affordable units. However, of those municipalities in Mercer County, Robbinsville is one of only two (Lawrence Township being the other) which had its third-round number (317 units) previously certified.
Judge Jacobson initially granted Robbinsville Township temporary immunity from such lawsuits for five months (until December 8, 2015) when the action was filed July 8, 2015.
FSHC is seeking to raise the total number of affordable housing units that the Township will be required to build by the year 2025 to just over 1,000. To accomplish this through inclusionary zoning would require developers to construct an additional 4,000 (approximate) market rate units, bringing the total number of proposed new housing units in Robbinsville to 5,000 at a rate of 500 new units constructed per year. Such a number would flood an already overburdened school system and likely lead to an unsustainable tax hike in a town that already is almost entirely built-out. Development at such a pace would not only be unsustainable, but highly unlikely given that no Mercer County municipality has ever seen that kind of development pace during housing construction booms, let alone in a sluggish economy.