SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - More housing units including affordable housing units will be built in the village over the next several years as part of the municipality's Fair Share Housing obligation.
Five hundred housing units, including 100 affordable units are expected to be constructed in town between now and 2025, according to Village President Sheena Collum. PILOTs and financial incentives will be used toward building the affordable housing. Collum gave an update about the municipality's affordable housing obligation during a recent Board of Trustees meeting.
The New Jersey Supreme Court banned the Council on Affordable Housing from determining affordable housing obligations for municipalities in March 2015 and ordered the towns to go through the Superior Court. The courts are responsible for determining if municipalities meet their constitutional obligations for affordable housing under the Fair Housing Act.
Municipalities that don't have court approval for their plans can be subject to "builder’s remedy" lawsuits, meaning developers can sue municipalities to allow construction of large housing complexes.
Many New Jersey towns have been in and out of court fighting for the number of affordable housing units they say best-suit their towns. South Orange, unlike other New Jersey towns, has been able to follow the numbers determined by the court.
"What I'm most proud of is ... we didn't take a vacant land adjustment [like a lot of towns]. We didn't come up with ways to work around the rules of the Fair Housing Act," Collum said. "We accepted our numbers and we're going to do redevelopment."
The village held meetings in February and March in which revamping South Orange's master plan was discussed. In June, the South Orange Master Plan Committee held a meeting in which the possibility of constructing backyard and carriage apartments, triplexes with individual driveways, and two-bedroom apartments was discussed. Converting single-family homes into multi-family homes was also discussed.