The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division has reversed a prior ruling that allowed Hoboken developers involved in four separate projects to bypass the city’s 10 percent affordable housing requirement.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“On remand, the Law Division judge erroneously granted summary judgment to these same developers based on an as applied challenge to the 1988 Hoboken Affordable Housing Ordinance (AHO),” Appellate Judges Jose L. Fuentes, Michael J. Haas, and Catherine I. Enright decided in an opinion issued today.
“Furthermore, in a manner irreconcilable with this court’s decision, the Law Division held that the City’s AHO did not apply to the developments at issue because the City of Hoboken
and its Zoning Board of Adjustment were estopped 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.”
The appeal was brought forward by the Fair Share Housing Center, Inc., who recently brought litigation against the Western Edge project over their affordable housing component, though that matter was quickly settled in July.
Meanwhile, the projects in question are the Artisan Hoboken Apartments (1100 Jefferson St.), 1415 Park Avenue, 900 Monroe St., and 1316-1330 Willow Ave. (Advance at Hoboken LLC).
“In this appeal, we hold the Law Division misconstrued the scope of the remand ordered by this court by allowing the developers to relitigate the enforceability of the City’s 1988 AHO,” the ruling continues.
“Furthermore, these developers were also precluded from challenging the enforcement of the AHO based on their expressed waiver of those issues in the 2012 litigation. The developers claim that the issues addressed by the Law Division in the 2015 litigation under review here were not raised before the trial judge in the 2012 litigation. This is simply not true.”
While a superior court judge ruled that the AHO was “inconsistent” with Municipal Land Use Law, the Fair Housing Act, and other related procedures and guidelines, the appellate court says that was an incorrect assessment.
“This court upheld the validity of the AHO in its prior opinion and declared it enforceable against the four developers,” today’s opinion says.
“The trial court did not have the legal authority to adjudicate the issues these developers voluntarily waived in the first case, thus creating a backdoor to continue to challenge the validity of the AHO.”
On Thursday morning, Fair Share Housing Center Executive Director Adam Gordon applauded the ruling and noted that this should require the construction of 56 affordable units in Hoboken.
“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.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.