CEDAR GROVE, NJ - On Monday Cedar Grove hosted its state representatives at a town hall meeting to discuss the overdevelopment issue stemming from affordable housing obligations.  The meeting is part of an effort by Town Council to take a proactive approach to any further development in Cedar Grove. Dozens of Cedar Grove residents came out for the meeting.   

Senator Kristin Corrado, Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips and Assemblyman Kevin Rooney discussed the affordable housing mandates in the state of New Jersey. The affordable housing obligations stem from the Mount Laurel I and II decisions that state that New Jersey municipalities are required to plan, zone for and take affirmative actions to provide realistic opportunities for affordable housing for low and moderate-income people.  The state agency tasked with implementing and regulating the affordable housing guidelines failed to do so from 1999-2015.  Due to lack of action by this agency and the state legislature the courts intervened and have taken control of the process. 

Currently, suburban municipalities have been settling in court with the Fair Share Housing Center, a non-profit affordable housing advocacy group, on the number of units to be built.  The choice for municipalities is to settle or to go to a builder’s remedy lawsuit. Most municipal governments fear that if they do not settle, they will be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills and possibly an affordable housing requirement that is even greater than a settlement number.  No town has ever won a builder’s remedy lawsuit. It is also important to know that developers are permitted to build, on average, five market price units for each affordable housing unit.  This is what leads to the overdevelopment that will be taxing on the infrastructures New Jersey towns. 

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The Senator and Assemblymen also spoke about some of the thirty bills, many of which they have sponsored, that have been proposed in the state legislature to give control of development back to the towns. Currently, the court system, which have no vested interest in the individual municipalities, are making decisions. The legislators also stated that in order for the proposed legislation to be voted on it must first go through the Housing and Community Development Committee and the chairman of this committee has not placed any of the bills on the docket to discuss. 

Also, in attendance was Jim Burd, a representative for the Citizens Improving Affordable Housing (CIAH). This group’s goal is to push for responsible legislation that require affordable housing mandates to take into consideration the town’s population and infrastructure.  Mr. Burd extended an invitation to the State Affordable Housing meeting at William Paterson University on November 29 at 10 am.  The Housing Committee Chairman Benjie Wimberly as well as other members of the legislature will be in attendance. 

The Cedar Grove Council has vowed to stay proactive in the fight against further overdevelopment.  In an effort to do so, an Affordable Housing Advisory Subcommittee has been formed which consists Councilwoman Kerry Peterson and Councilman Peter Tanella, as well as three citizen representatives, Kevin McVey, Isabel Spagnardi, and Brigid Bauer. 

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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