Chatham Borough Planning Board, Council Pass "Affordable Housing" Draft for Court

Susan G. Blickstein, Chatham Borough Planner, speaks at Special Meeting on Affordable Housing on Wednesday night Credits: TAP Chatham
Joint Special Meeting held Wednesday between Borough of Chatham Council and Planning Board Credits: TAP Chatham
Council member John Holman asks about the impact on school population in the formation of Chatham's "Realistic Development Potential." Credits: TAP Chatham
Chatham Planning Board members Joe Mikulewicz and Matt Wagner at Joint Special Meeting on Wednesday Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham Council and Planning Board each unanimously approved its Draft 2015 Housing Element and Fair Share Plan at a Joint Special Meeting held Wednesday night.

Since the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that implementation of the third round of Affordable Housing would be decided by the courts, Chatham Borough has taken steps to comply and maintain its immunity to "Builders Remedy" lawsuits.

Chatham previously filed a Declaratory Judgment for immunity, which runs out Jan. 7, 2016. The next step is to file its Draft 2015 Housing Element and Fair Share Plan before Morris County Superior Court Judge Stephan C. Hansbury. With the approval of the council and planning board Wednesday night, James Lott, borough attorney, anticipated the filing to take place by Friday.

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Susan Blickstein, borough planner, gave an overview of the draft and answered questions (see videos below) from the council, planning board and public before the vote was taken.

According to the formula put forth by the New Jersey Fair Share Housing Center, an advocacy group for the Mount Laurel Doctrine, Chatham would be required to accommodate 486 Affordable Housing Units.

Blickstein explained the reasoning behind Chatham's 2015 Draft Plan, which would call for 150 total units, 30 of which would be set side for Affordable Housing units.

Although implementation of the third round of Affordable Housing requirements has been tied up in the courts, Chatham Borough has taken steps to prepare for added Affordable Housing units by rezoning the "M" Districts on River Road and Watchung Avenue. That is the proposed area for accommodation in the 2015 Draft.

It was pointed out by council member Victoria Fife that all the property proposed is private property (see video below) and Chatham would not be forcing anyone to sell their property. It only provides a reasonable opportunity for development of such units, and that Chatham would facilitate such development, not block it.

Blickstein noted that Chatham Borough is receiving credit for the eight Affordable Housing units built on Schindler Court, which are considered low and moderate housing units.

Once the draft is filed with the court, it will be made available to the public on the Chatham Borough website.

Susan Blickstein, borough planner, says that Chatham's RDP (Realistic Development Potential) is 150 units, 30 of which would be set aside for Affordable Housing.

Susan Blickstein, borough planner, explains that the rezoned commercial "M" Districts are the best places for "inclusionary development."

Council member Victoria Fife explains that the borough had identified the rezoned "M" Districts as a possible place for development of Affordable Housing.

Mayor Harris explains that the borough and planning board are obligated to come up with a reasonable plan for Affordable Housing requirements

Susan Blickstein, borough planner, explains how Chatham came up with its draft for its realistic development potential figure of 30 Affordable Housing units


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