October 3, 2013 at 6:55 AM
LIVINGSTON, NJ – On Aug. 30, the New Jersey Appellate Division made a decision to uphold the previous trial court decision against Livingston awarding a builder’s remedy to Hillside Heights Northfield Partners, LLC, and Squiretown Properties, LLC.
This decision will make it possible for both Hillside Heights Northfield Partners and Squiretown Properties to forge ahead with building projects which will, on one hand, contribute to fulfilling the town’s obligation, as set forth in the Mt. Laurel Doctrine, to provide a percentage of affordable housing units within the community, but on the other hand, may create density issues for the community as a whole.
The Mt. Laurel Doctrine was introduced to give residents in every community theoretical access to more affordable housing. According to the township, “while in principle a solid idea, in practice, it (enforcing the Mt. Laurel Doctrine) can lead to a variety of problems which must then be borne by the municipalities themselves.”
While the township suggested that it was not opposed to the idea of incorporating low- to middle-income affordable housing into the community, “overcrowding, water and sewer problems, traffic flow and poorly thought out building plans can cause unanticipated and sometimes anticipated but ignored complications.” The township also said that, “unfortunately, some courts hold the view that affordable housing trumps other considerations.”
According to the township’s press release, “the Township's appeal presented genuine legal issues to the Court but the Appellate Division failed to be persuaded by these arguments.”
With this ruling Squiretown property, which is between Eisenhower Parkway and Old Road, was granted the builder’s remedy for 220 units, with 20 percent being designated for lower-income housing.
Hillside Heights Northfield Partners, located on Northfield in the area of what was previously Dubrow’s, has a plan to construct four three-story buildings containing 80 multi-family-dwelling units. Sixteen of these units will be designated for lower-income households, and a fifth of the property will be designated for a club facility.
According to its release, the Township of Livingston has several concerns on these projects. “Our objection was to the builder's request to increase the density of housing to a level that could ultimately overwhelm the town's traffic, water and sewer capacities.”
The Livingston Planning Board has made some changes to the Squiretown plan which, according to the town, will reduce its negative impact on the vicinity of the project.
The township could choose to appeal the Appellate Court decision to the New Jersey Supreme Court. However, the council and township management has decided that the “prospects for success are highly unlikely, so the decision has been made not to do so.”