At issue in the case is the validity of Hoboken’s 1988 affordable housing ordinance, which required that developers devote 10 percent of new apartment projects to affordable units or else pay a sum into a housing trust fund.
Each of the developers agreed to follow the ordinance when seeking building variances before the Hoboken Zoning Board, then reneged, challenging the ordinance as unenforceable because it had never been approved by the state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). Fair Share Housing Center countersued in an attempt to force the developers to honor their commitment.
In 2012, a Hudson County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the developers, finding the ordinance to be in conflict with COAH regulations.
This past Tuesday, state appellate judge Jose Fuentes reversed the lower court’s ruling, finding that Hoboken was not required to submit its ordinance to COAH.
Earlier this year, the New Jersey Supreme Court effectively eliminated COAH for failing to do its job, rendering the Superior Court’s concerns moot, according to Fuentes.
The Appellate Division remanded the case to Hudson County Superior Court and ordered its judges to determine how many affordable units the Hoboken developers must actually create. However, at least one of the lawyers for the developers told New Jersey Law Journal that he planned to advise his client to appeal the ruling.
“This unanimous decision is a victory for working families - not only in Hoboken but also in fast-growing urban communities across New Jersey,” said Fair Share Housing Center Executive Director Kevin Walsh. “As expensive new luxury high-rises go up across New Jersey, the court today gave our cities crucial tools to ensure that no one is left behind by this continuing growth and everyone can enjoy the benefits of living in these thriving communities.”
The 1988 affordable housing ordinance only applies to residential units that sought local board approval before October 2012. A new ordinance with similar rules passed in 2012 governs projects before the Zoning and Planning Boards now.
The developments in question are 1316-1330 Willow Ave. (Willow14), 1415 Park Ave. (Park & Garden), 900 Monroe St. and 1400-1404 Clinton St. (The Artisan).