Fair Share Housing Center seeking summary judgement to void Jersey City’s IZO

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The Fair Share Housing Center is seeking summary judgement in their inclusionary zoning ordinance lawsuit against the City of Jersey City to void the measure, filing a separate motion for sanctions in hopes of receiving attorney’s fees and costs. 

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The City enacted this unlawful scheme while flouting the statutorily-mandated procedure for adopting development and zoning ordinances, which requires referral to the City’s Planning Board for consistency review with the master plan prior to adoption,” the 39-page brief in support of summary judgement, filed on Friday, says.

“Jersey City is not above the law. It must abide by the procedural and substantive requirements enacted by the New Jersey Legislature — just like every other municipality in the State. Because Ordinance No. 20-089 was adopted in violation of the MLUL’s statutorily-mandated procedure, and because it substantively violates the law and public policy, and exceeds Jersey City’s legislative authority, it must be invalidated.”

In a separation motion for sanctions to award attorney’s fees and costs, FSHC contends that the city filed a non-compliant answer in March.

“In its answer, the City denied 92 of the 93 paragraphs in the complaint, including basic facts that are supported by the City’s own documents attached as exhibits to the complaint,” allegedly that the city hasn’t filed a compliant answer to date.

Hudson County Superior Court Judge Joseph Turula has set a July 23rd deadline at 9 a.m. for the city to answer FSHC’s motions.

Back in October, the Jersey City Council approved an inclusionary zoning ordinance, which includes the ability to waive affordable housing requirements under a buyout provision.

That portion of the ordinance would allow developers to pay the city between $25,000 and $100,000 per unit – with a two percent annual increase – instead of building affordable housing. Those funds would then be allocated to the city’s affordable trust fund.

Prior to FSHC filing suit in December, the city was dismissive of their criticisms.

” … The reality is that Fair Share Housing’s ordinance in Newark, which is their model ordinance, is hugely flawed, and the proof is that under their ordinance, there has not been one successful project built in two years without using tax abatements or state subsidies,” city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said shortly before the council vote in October.

Early this evening, she voiced a similar sentiment, again taking aim at Fair Share Housing’s approach to affordable housing.

 “… We disagree with Fair Share Housing’s approach to their ordinance as, in reality, their approach is good rhetoric but it hasn’t actually yielded meaningful affordable housing in any city similar to Jersey City where Fair Share Housing has forced their ordinance on residents.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.