Boro readies affordable housing ordinances

New rules would help remedy noncompliance with COAH quotas


Staff Writer

The Oceanport Borough Council has introduced two ordinances to bring the borough into compliance with state affordable housing requirements.

The ordinances will “assist [the borough] in fulfilling a plan to complete our Mount Laurel requirement,” Councilman Gerald J. Briscione said at the Aug. 11 council meeting.

The borough has retained attorney Jeffrey Surenian, Toms River, whose focus is affordable housing, to help it develop an affordable housing plan. Oceanport is currently in the process of evaluating its specific affordable housing requirement, Surenian said.

Surenian is also representing the borough in a “builders remedy” lawsuit filed by Oceanport Holdings LLC, which has proposed constructing a 60-unit high-rise complex, with 20 percent of the units slated for affordable housing, on River Street.

The first of the proposed ordinances would require developers to build one affordable residential unit for every eight market-rate residential units constructed and would require the production of one affordable unit for every 25 jobs projected to be created by nonresidential development, as required by the state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).

The ordinance defines affordable housing as any deed-restricted housing unit with an acquisition price or rent level not exceeding the maximum resale or rent level for low- or moderate-income housing.

The second ordinance proposed would establish mandatory development fees for affordable housing for new developments in Oceanport and would establish an affordable housing trust fund for the rehabilitation of affordable housing in the borough.

The development fees are paid by an individual, person, partnership, association, company or corporation for the improvement of property as permitted in COAH regulations.

The public hearing and adoption of the two ordinances is scheduled for Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. at borough hall.

The affordable housing requirements are the result of a 1985 court decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court that mandated all municipalities take steps to meet their fair share of low- and moderate-income housing need.

The state Council on Affordable Housing was also created that year, which assigned all municipalities a quantitative assessment of their respective Fair Share Obligation.

COAH created an initial quantitative affordable housing obligation for municipalities in its first round from 1987 to 1993 and then established an additional cumulative obligation in its second round from 1987 to 1999.

Oceanport was deemed to have 136 units of affordable housing for its first-round obligation and a cumulative second-round obligation for a total of 164 units.

In December 2004, rather than impose a definitive obligation for municipalities in the third round for 2004 through 2014, COAH determined that the obligation should be based on each municipality’s rate of housing and employment growth.

The borough filed a plan with COAH in 1987 that recognized that Oceanport had an affordable housing obligation, but the plan stated that the borough did not have available vacant, developable land to meet the first-round obligation, according to the lawsuit filed by Oceanport Holdings.

Upon review, COAH determined that land owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns the Monmouth Park Racetrack, had not been included in the borough’s assessment of available land, the lawsuit states.

When COAH recommended that Oceanport redraft the plan to rezone lands owned by the authority, the borough refused and withdrew its plan in 1991.

Oceanport has not addressed its affordable housing obligation, and its first- and second-round obligations have remained unfulfilled, according to the suit.

Surenian was originally hired by the municipality to help develop an affordable housing plan, but in May, Oceanport Holdings filed the law suit, and Surenian is currently representing Oceanport in the case.