Friday, July 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Opinion: Appellate Court Ruling Hits the Poor Where They Live

Has a recent court decision dealt a mortal blow to the construction of much-needed affordable housing in New Jersey? Probably not mortal, more like a roundhouse kick, but the ruling -- unless reversed by the state Supreme Court -- will further slow the already glacial pace that low-income housing is built in the Garden State.

Opinion: Appellate Court Ruling Hits the Poor Where They Live

Has a recent court decision dealt a mortal blow to the construction of much-needed affordable housing in New Jersey? Probably not mortal, more like a roundhouse kick, but the ruling -- unless reversed by the state Supreme Court -- will further slow the already glacial pace that low-income housing is built in the Garden State.

On November 1 a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of Superior Court -- the state's second highest -- sustained zoning-board and lower-court denials of a plan to build 292 multifamily units, with 59 units set aside for low- and moderate-income residents, in an industrial zone of Branchburg.

Significantly, the case -- “Advance at Branchburg v. Township of Branchburg Bd. of Adjustment” -- is stamped “approved for publication.” That means the court’s opinion will be printed among the official (hard-bound) judicial reports and serve as binding precedent on similar cases in the future. Hence, the implications of this decision must be carefully considered.

The key aspect of the Branchburg case that is causing angina among fair-housing advocates is the court’s explicit rejection of the principle that a developer who sets aside 20 percent of lower-income housing to be subsidized by the sale of 80 percent of market rate housing is not entitled to favorable treatment as an “inherently beneficial use.” The term includes hospitals, schools, group homes for the disabled, solar energy projects, and low-income housing -- but not, apparently, if the latter is part of a larger residential complex.

In other words, the court held that only a development limited solely to Mount Laurel housing for low- and moderate-income families is considered to be “inherently beneficial” -- and therefore accorded more lenient zoning code reviews by local land-use agencies. But the market-rate housing, even if necessary to finance the subsidized units, is not included within the inherently beneficial category.

Click here for the full post

About this blog
NJ Spotlight is an issue-driven news website that provides critical insight to New Jersey’s communities and businesses. We are non-partisan, independent, policy-centered and community-minded, and we're partnering with Philly.com.

Contact us: info@njspotlight.com

Press releases: news@njspotlight.com

Sales: kharold@njspotlight.com

More information: www.njspotlight.com


NJ Spotlight
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected