Law & Justice

Superior Court Judge Hits South Brunswick A Second Time In Affordable Housing Case, 1,374 More Units Needed

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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Superior Court Judge Douglas Wolfson hit South Brunswick with a second decision Wednesday that adds another 1,374 affordable housing units to the municipality’s obligation.

According to his decision, the units would be to cover a 16-year “gap period” of need in the community in addition to the “current” obligation of 1,533 units he ordered in August to be built during the next 10 years, for a total of 2,907 units.

“I am entirely satisfied that a significant affordable housing need arose during the gap period (1999-2015),” Wolfson wrote in his decision Wednesday. “This need is a necessary component of South Brunswick’s fair share calculation.”

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This decision comes as the second part of a trial started last year in which the township sought to be spared judicial intervention in its plans to implement affordable housing in the community.

The first part of the trial took place during the summer and Wolfson decided that the township, despite having a plan to address the issue, had not acted “in good faith.”

Wolfson said, at that time, that the township would lose any say in what parcels could be developed to meet the current 1,533-unit obligation, as determined by the court.

He said the testimony of the township’s expert, Dr. Peter Angelides of the Econsult consulting firm, to be “flawed” and not credible.

Similarly, in the second part of the trial this week, Wolfson again said in his decision that he found Dr. Angelides testimony lacking to find for South Brunswick.

Wolfson, instead, went with the findings of one of the town’s opponents in the lawsuit, the Fair Share Housing Center.

"This decision demonstrates that towns can't use gimmicks to exclude tens of thousands of working families, seniors and people with disabilities from safe neighborhoods and access to good schools and employment," Fair Share Housing Center Executive Director Kevin Walsh said in a press release announcing the decision. "These families have waited 16 years for New Jersey's housing laws to provide them the opportunities promised by our Constitution. It's time to reject these extreme arguments so that we can get to work building homes for New Jersey families."

The township is appealing the August ruling and will likely appeal this decision as well, officials have said.

The next stop in the legal battle is the State Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the case next month.

South Brunswick officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday’s decision.

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