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Judge overrules housing decision in Sayreville

Investment risk and uncertainty in the real estate housing market

SAYREVILLE – The Sayreville Borough Council’s rejection of two ordinances intended to assist Sayreville in reaching its necessary amount of affordable units has been overruled by a New Jersey Superior Court judge.

At a meeting on Sept. 25, the council voted 5-1 to deny an ordinance that will amend the borough’s affordable housing ordinance, and voted to deny an ordinance that will permit projects that have affordable units in their zone.

Council President Daniel Buchanan and council members Victoria Kilpatrick, Pat Lembo, Ricci Melendez and Mary Novak voted “yes” on denying the affordable housing amendment ordinance; Councilman Steven Grillo voted “no.” The vote on denying the inclusionary multi-family dwellings ordinance was unanimously in the affirmative.

However, following the denial of the ordinances, Superior Court Judge Arnold Natali overruled the council’s action and ordered the immediate adoption of the ordinances.

Natali’s ruling was posted as a notice on Sayreville’s official website a day after the council meeting – Sept. 26 – and was confirmed by borough officials.

The ordinances did not appear as agenda items at the council’s following meeting on Oct. 10. When asked by a resident at that meeting about the ordinances’ adoption, Borough Attorney Michael DuPont said that a final order from the court has not been entered yet and he could not comment further.

The council’s rejection of the ordinances was made amid concerns from residents over the proposed affordable housing plan because, if approved, it will create additional market rate units apart from the required affordable units. Residents have spoken about the potential impacts that the additional residential units might create, such as the potential impact on the school district, traffic, taxes, open space, population density and safety.

Members of the council have shared residents’ concerns, with Buchanan, Kilpatrick and Novak also stating that they were not informed of zoning changes that the ordinances would create until the ordinances were presented before them earlier this year. Grillo stated that his vote to deny the inclusionary multi-family dwellings ordinance was due to changes that the council made to the ordinance, which he believed were in contempt of court.

As the result of a settlement agreement, Sayreville is required to have 785 affordable units.

The ordinance permitting the affordable housing projects defines the projects as inclusionary multi-family dwellings, which are market-rate housing dwellings that have 15 percent of their units designated as affordable.

If adopted, the inclusionary multi-family dwellings ordinance will permit Camelot at Sayreville I, which will have 173 units (26 affordable), and Camelot at Sayreville II, which will have 300 units (45 affordable). Both projects are being developed by Kaplan Properties, which filed as an intervener in Sayreville’s litigation with Superior Court over its affordable housing obligations.

In addition to the Kaplan projects, a previous version of the ordinance included Cross Avenue/National Lead Site, which will have 163 units (24 affordable), and River Road Development Site, which will have 160 units (24 affordable), as projects intended to assist the borough in meeting its obligations. These projects are not in the current version of the ordinance that the council was ordered to adopt.

In response to a question on Oct. 10 about National Lead being awarded intervener status, meaning representatives of the company can intervene in the litigation, DuPont said that National Lead is allowed to be an intervener by a judge’s order, but a final order has not been entered yet.

The Oct. 10 meeting also saw the council adopt an ordinance creating a developer fee ordinance and an ordinance permitting affordable accessory apartments in the borough’s office/services overlay zone.

The developer fee ordinance is intended to charge developers a fee if they do not include an affordable housing component in their projects. Council members voiced their support of the ordinance, but stated they intend to amend it after its adoption due to concerns they have over how it was written and its potential impact on The Pointe, an ongoing $2.2 billion retail/mixed-use project.

Excluding The Pointe, 803 market-rate units with 141 affordable units are planned to be built in the borough.

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