Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Summarizing Denville's Affordable Housing Crisis !

  • The State has a Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). They were supposed to give direction to municipalities on what the requirements are for accommodating (zoning, master plans, etc..) developers to potentially build affordable housing options
  • COAH did a poor job determining those requirements and is being challenged in Supreme Court of NJ
  • The Court is now attempting to be the ones to determine what those requirements are 
  • The FAIR SHARE HOUSING Center claims Denville should build 1313 Affordable Units by 2025 (which means over 6000 total affordable and higher end units because developers build 5 non-affordable for every 1 affordable unit.  By that way that is nearly double the amount of households Denville currently has)
  • DENVILLE believes we have met our share of requirements.
  • However, the Court (while it determines what the actual required number of units for Denville are) requires Denville to continue “moving forward” with a plan to accommodate affordable housing (even though we don’t know what that requirement is).  If we don’t “move forward” we are not immune from Developers suing the Township to force us to develop.  This is how the development at Peer Place came about.  If we were sued we could be forced into allowing a developer to essentially build a high density “project” wherever they want.  
  • Denville is “moving forward” with a moderate plan to accommodate around 70-100 affordable units so we can keep immunity from being sued by developers.  That plan would assume about 500 total residential areas by 2025. One of which is a possible Redevelopment along Route 53 which would be about 8 affordable units and the rest mid-high end units.  Keep in mind this would satisfy about 16-18 units of obligation due to various incentives, etc..  I have a lot of concerns about this re-development but we have to look at it.
  • Denville has very little space (if any) for developing anything.  Therefore, we can only look to redevelop areas.  These would be areas that potentially could be developed anyway, most of the time by commercial development like businesses, etc..  We have often looked at submitting these areas as “rehabilitation” zones which allows Denville to more strictly define the aethetics and requirements of the development and allows us to rezone those areas for residentially instead of commercial.  (i.e. we often also ask for other community improvements such as the sewer lines and access road brought in to Estling Lake Villages area)  We do recognize that accommodating for residential re-development impacts traffic, township resources, school resources.  However, this is the predictament we are in due to the above factors.
  • Please stay informed and help the township make the right decisions.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on the topic and naturally some people are playing politics with the topic.  As a councilperson I would love to say “hey let’s not build a thing in Denville ever again” but I realize that’s not going to be possible and would result in massive lawsuits in addition to massive housing development dictated to us.  Some tough decisions have to be made and we have to really stand up to our state legislatures, Governor and others to demand a reasonable solution to accommodate affordable housing fairly.