JERSEY CITY, NJ - The Jersey City Council voted to approve an inclusionary zoning ordinance that some critics claim gave breaks to wealthy developers by a 7-2 vote.

Scores of protestors spoke at the remote meeting last week, many of whom read from the same script, trying to derail the ordinance on the grounds that it gave developers too many loopholes at a time when affordable housing is desperately needed.

Developers seeking variances for new or improved housing that increases a property’s density or height would have to include 20 percent as affordable units, not just on the added elements, but for the entire property.

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Projects that do not require variances would be required to have at least five percent of the units in the project as affordable, and construct affordable units elsewhere in the city or set aside funding for construction or upgrades to affordable units at other locations. The developer could also meet some of the requirements through community give-backs such as building a community center.

Councilman-At-Large Rolando Lavarro, who tried to modify the ordinance to eliminate some of what he called “loopholes,” and Councilman James Solomon both voted against the ordinance.

Lavarro wanted to increase the minimum number of units for affordable housing on site to 15 percent in the downtown section of the city and do away with some of the community benefits that would allow developers to construct fewer affordable housing units.

Council President Joyce Watterman defended the ordinance saying that developers needed incentives to build in remote sections of the city. The ordinance, she said, gives developers greater leeway when it comes to places such as Greenville, where new development in sparce

“They need something so that they will build in places other than the waterfront,” she said.

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