FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17th, 2022
Alex Staropoli, (914) 469-0060, firstname.lastname@example.org
FAIR SHARE HOUSING CENTER APPLAUDS GOVERNOR MURPHY’S INVESTMENT IN FORECLOSURE ASSISTANCEANNOUNCED TODAY
Morris Township Failed to Consider Vacant Land for Affordable Housing Before Re-Zoning it for Another Purpose
MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ –Today, Fair Share Housing Center filed a motion in Morris County Superior Court as part of its challenge of Morris Township’s zoning ordinance that unlawfully rezoned land to allow for an athletic training facility for the New York Red Bulls soccer team.
The motion asks the Superior Court to recalculate the Township’s realistic development potential based on the land that was rezoned and to come up with a plan to address that potential. The motion also requests a scarce resource restraint to prevent the Township from dissipating land resources in the interim.
“The Mount Laurel Doctrine exists precisely to prevent this type of exclusionary zoning,” said Rachel N. Lokken, a Staff Attorney at Fair Share Housing Center. “Morris Township’s failure to consider newly vacant land for affordable housing before rezoning it is unlawful.”
“Especially during Black History Month,” Lokken continued, “it’s important that we acknowledge how exclusionary zoning, both historically and today, deprive slow-income and people of color from housing opportunities in certain towns. At its heart, Mount Laurel is about opportunity, and the fact that all New Jerseyans, regardless of their income or race, should have the right to choose wherever they want to live.”
In December, Morris Township passed Zoning Ordinance 27-21, that rezoned land from the old Honeywell headquarters to allow for an athletic training facility for the New York Red Bulls soccer team.
Under Mount Laurel, all towns in New Jersey are required to provide their fair share of the region’s affordable housing. Affordable housing obligations are sometimes adjusted based on a town’s realistic development potential, which includes an assessment of vacant land available for development.
Morris Township received a significant adjustment of its obligation because it claimed at the time that it did not have sufficient land, resulting in the Township only fully addressing about half of its obligation.
At the time of settlement with Morris Township, the Honeywell tract in question was excluded from the vacant land adjustment because it was not vacant at the time. Now that it is vacant and available for development, the affordable housing obligation for Morris Township must be recalculated because the realistic development potential in the town has changed. Morris Township’s rezoning of this land, without recalculating its realistic development potential, was unlawful and a blatant attempt to thwart its requirement to plan for additional affordable housing.
Fair Share Housing Center has settled more than 300 cases in New Jersey under the Mount Laurel Doctrine. The Mount Laurel Doctrine has played an integral role in the development of affordable housing throughout the state. Fair Share Housing Center estimates that more than 70,000 affordable units have been built as a result of the Doctrine, with approximately 50,000 more in development. Preventing exclusionary zoning is critical to ensuring that all residents in New Jersey have a safe, healthy, and affordable place to live.