Randolph Township, OH

Randolph Township Navigates Path to Affordable Housing, Secures Legal Immunity Until 2025

Morristown Minute

The future of affordable housing in Randolph Township.Photo byMorristown Minute

A series of strategic planning, court hearings, and a crucial settlement agreement shapes the future of affordable housing in Randolph Township.

In a drive to meet its affordable housing obligations, Randolph Township, New Jersey, has progressed on an elaborate journey that began in the 1980s and has already resulted in the creation of over 300 affordable housing units.

Following a landmark New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in 2015, the review process of affordable housing requirements was transferred from the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to the New Jersey Superior Court. The court mandate didn't allow the township to reject development proposals based on concerns about school and infrastructure impact. This led to Randolph filing a declaratory judgment action that same year, triggering a five-year negotiation process. 

The aim was to seek approval for their affordable housing plans and avoid potential 'builder’s remedy' lawsuits, which could lead to uncontrolled development without local zoning regulations. The rigorous process culminated in a court-approved settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center in June 2022. 

The agreement required Randolph to provide 643 affordable units by 2025, using a mix of strategies including increased density provisions and inclusionary zoning. The agreement permitted credits for already completed projects and bonus credits. As a result, the total number of new affordable units provided under this plan amounts to 258.

A few months later, a compliance hearing led by Judge Stephan C. Hansbury took place on September 29, 2022. This meeting necessitated additional documentation related to the creditworthiness of affordable housing credits within 30 days, and a mandate to meet with Avalon Bay and Ten Development Partners to resolve issues related to Zoning Ordinance No. 27-22 within 90 days. The hearing also dismissed for the fourth time the objections raised by Randolph Mountain Partnership.

As of today, June 5, 2023, the Superior Court of New Jersey has granted the township a Judgment of Compliance and Repose, approving the township's Housing Element and Fair Share Plan (HEFSP). This significant judgment provides immunity from all affordable housing lawsuits until July 1, 2025.

Randolph Township is now implementing the plan. Several housing projects, such as Gateways, Crossings at Bennett Avenue, The Village Square, Canoe Brook, Sussex Ridge, and Liberty Village, are currently underway. Additional identified sites are poised for development pending receipt of application submissions. The township is also required to reserve water for these inclusionary projects and is monitoring water consumption closely to ensure future water capacity.

Mayor Potter has been providing regular updates on this extensive effort. The Randolph Township Division of Planning & Zoning Administration has even created a map outlining proposed affordable housing projects and their current statuses, which is updated whenever a project's status changes. 

Future development proposals will require site plan approval from the Planning Board and will be reviewed according to New Jersey's Residential Site Improvement Standards.

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