Court rules Hoboken luxury developers must provide affordable housing units

Increasingly, developers of large urban housing projects are required to dedicate x number of units to affordable housing. 

In this case, there are four luxury housing projects in Hoboken, NJ. A total of 546 new homes. After ten years of litigation, the developers will need to provide 10%–or 56 affordable homes–along with their luxury units. Developers spent ten years in and out of court, trying to get a waiver, excusing them from having to comply with this affordable housing policy.

The 1988 Ordinance attempts to maintain the city’s culture and diversity

In Hoboken, the 1988 Affordable Housing Ordinance (AHO) aims to counter the historical gentrification that has affected Hoboken’s diverse demographic. As with many communities, Hoboken is struggling to provide the affordable housing that will help it maintain its culture and diversity.

But in 2012, developers in the legal battle said AHO couldn’t be enforced because of the city’s “collective failure” to reserve the 10% affordable housing to other developments between 1988 and 2011, to which the trial court agreed, court documents said.

Fair Share Housing Center, the plaintiff, appealed the lower court’s ruling, and it was then reversed in their favor. The appellate court sent it back to trial to decide on “the remaining legal issues raised by the parties,” court documents said.

Instead, on remand, the trial court ruled that the ordinance was “inconsistent” with the Municipal Land Use Law, the Fair Housing Act, and the procedures and guidelines of affordable housing; despite previously stating the AHO is “valid and enforceable as written.”

The lower court declared that the AHO was “null, void and unenforceable.”

Developer 9th Monroe and NJ Casket later filed a motion for summary judgement based on the decision, which dismisses a lawsuit.

They were granted the motion, and FSHC appealed.

“In this appeal, we hold the (trial court) misconstrued the scope of the remand ordered by this court by allowing the developers to relitigate the enforceability of the city’s 1988 AHO,” Judge Jose L. Fuentes wrote. “Furthermore, these developers were also (prevented) from challenging the enforcement of the AHO based on their expressed waiver of those issues in the 2012 litigation.”

Fuente wrote in the new ruling that the appellate court did “not permit the developers to relitigate the enforceability of the AHO,” upholding the ordinance’s enforceability against the four developers.

“The trial court did not have the legal authority to adjudicate the issues these developers voluntarily waived in the first case, thus creating a backdoor to continue to challenge the validity of the AHO,” Fuentes wrote.

The developers of the “high-end residential properties” secured variances from the city’s zoning ordinance that has “increased the value of their projects,” Fuentes wrote. He added that all four developers agreed to comply with the requirements of the AHO.

Our Town St. Helena

Volunteer/get involved in affordable housing: Info@ourtownsthelena


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