CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham became the first municipality in Morris County to settle its state requirement for the third round of the "Housing Element and Fair Share Plan" to provide affordable housing.

"This is really great," Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris said, summing up the bottom line for Chatham Borough in resolving the complex, litigious issue.

The Borough of Chatham Council and the borough planning board passed the corresponding ordinances at a joint special meeting held Wednesday night that will implement Chatham's 35-page "Housing Element and Fair Share Plan," and fulfill the town's legal obligation for the next 10 years.

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On Sept. 7, Morris County Superior Court Judge Stephan C. Hansbury approved the revised settlement negotiated with the Fair Share Housing Center, the state advocates for affordable housing. Because of the ruling, Chatham is protected from builder remedy lawsuits in relation to affordable housing.

Chatham Borough has agreed to provide the mechanisms that will allow for 36 affordable housing units to be built over the next 10 years. That figure is Chatham's RDP or Real Estate Development Potential.

In the department of unmet needs, the Fair Share Housing Center argued in court that Chatham's obligation of fair share housing was 481. But that figure was reduced by 30 percent in the negotiated settlement, which made the figure 301 (including the 36 RDP units).

Those 301 units are not required, but Chatham agreed to rezoning of certain areas to allow for a 15 percent set-aside of affordable housing units if new housing developments were built. 

At the special meeting held Wednesday, the Borough of Chatham Council introduced an ordinance to amend code that will allow for compliance of its fair share plan. The ordinance passed by a 5-0 vote and will be up for adoption at the Oct. 24 meeting. The borough planning board followed by approving of the amendments by a 7-0 vote.

Dr. Susan Blickstein gives background on COAH, which prompted the New Jersey Supreme Court to require court-approved fair share housing plans be put in place