RANDOLPH, NJ- The following statement was provided by Randolph Township:
A letter regarding the ongoing deliberation of the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on affordable housing and Randolph’s involvement in the same was referenced in a recent social media posting. The letter was neither produced nor distributed by the township municipal organization. The letter appears to have been authored by an independent group or individual for the purpose of misleading and instigating concern. The letter was not sent to all residents, but rather, to a targeted group of individuals in the community with the apparent expectation it would circulate virally through various communication media.
This statement was prepared to alert residents to the existence of the referenced letter, and to provide an accurate overview on the affordable housing issue. The following is a factual summation:
- In 2015 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the administrative process for reviewing municipal compliance with the state’s affordable housing requirements had become non-functioning and transferred jurisdiction over such matters from the state agency responsible for overseeing the state’s affordable housing rules, the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), to the New Jersey Superior Court.
- The Supreme Court ruling established a judicial forum as a substitute for COAH’s process for certifying a municipality’s affordable housing obligation. In accordance with the Supreme Court ruling, New Jersey municipalities were provided the opportunity to seek approval of their plans for development of affordable housing through a court filing termed a declaratory judgment action. Randolph filed its declaratory judgment action, along with the accompanying housing plan approved by the planning board in March 2016, as required by the court.
- The responsibility for reviewing the declaratory judgment actions filed by the municipalities was assigned to one of the 15 judges appointed by the Supreme Court to review the matter. The judge assigned to decide Morris County municipalities’ affordable housing obligation is still in the process of reviewing motions and other technical issues associated with the matter. A proceeding to determine the obligations of Randolph and other towns with plans pending in Morris County has not yet been scheduled.
- The matter remains before the court and involves litigation being contested by affordable housing advocates lead by the Fair Share Housing Center, the State Builder’s Association and developers with interest in local property. Therefore, since 2015 all discussion of this matter by the township council has been in executive session (closed to public). Under the law, executive session is the proper forum for municipalities to review and discuss matters involving litigation. Under the requirements of the law, the results of those discussions can and will be released at which time the litigation has concluded.
- There has been limited public discussion on the issue because it is a legal matter and public discussion at this point in the process would undermine Randolph’s strategic position in the litigation.
- At the center of the litigation is the methodology under which the court will use to determine the municipal affordable housing obligations for the period 1999-2025. The municipalities have proposed a methodology, which is believed fair and appropriate, and yields an obligation that would require less development. The Fair Share Housing Advocates, the Builder’s Association and interested developers are proffering a methodology that would require much more intensive and extensive development.
- Randolph has met all of its obligations in the legal process and continues to work for the best possible outcome for the community.
- The township is part of a legal defense consortium comprised of municipalities from across New Jersey. This consortium has represented the township’s interests since the beginning of the legal process and has helped keep legal costs to a minimum.
- Litigation is always difficult to predict as far as timing, but it is believed the matter will be moving towards closure in the coming year.
- As the mayor advised in his reorganization address, the township will share more information about the matter in 2019 as is allowable given the constraints of the litigation process.