Legal fight over housing will go on for Marlboro

Staff Writer

MARLBORO – An attorney who represents builders said a complaint has been filed against Marlboro in the hope of obtaining more compliance from the township in the area of affordable housing.

The plaintiffs in the case are Ashbel Associates, LLC, Pallu Associates, LLC, Great River Corp, Gihon Associates, LLC, Windridge Manor, LLC, and Elon Associates, LLC.

Attorneys Thomas McCloskey and Henry Kent-Smith, of the firm Fox Rothschild, LLP, are representing the plaintiffs.

Ashbel Associates owns about 65 acres on Greenwood and Texas roads.

Pallu Associates, Gihon Associates and Great River Corp. collectively own 73 acres in Marlboro.

Windridge Manor owns an 18-acre parcel on Route 79.

Elon Associates owns two parcels of about 9 acres on Tennent Road and Route 520 and one parcel of about 12 acres on Union Hill Road.

The defendants in the builders’ legal action are Marlboro Township, Mayor Jonathan Hornik, the Township Council and the Planning Board.

The properties listed in the complaint are the Ashbel Associates property, the property owned by Pallu Associates, Great River Corp. and Gihon Associates, the Union Hill Road property, the Tennent Road property and the Route 79 property.

There are also references to the Ohad property, also known as Northpointe, which was approved by the Planning Board in October 2014 at Lloyd and Nolan roads on Marlboro’s border with Aberdeen Township.

The property is listed as a Multi-Family District IV zoning area.

The complaint states three counts on which the builders are seeking the court’s judgment. The plaintiffs are seeking a builder’s remedy (i.e., permission to construct market rates homes to subsidize the construction of affordable housing units); invalidation of zoning and site-specific zoning relief; and declaratory judgment relating to affordable housing relief regarding the enforcement of previous agreements.

On Sept. 9, 2010, the state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) denied Marlboro’s third round re-petition for substantive certification — which would have protected Marlboro from the threat of lawsuits filed by developers — and dismissed the township from its jurisdiction.

Marlboro officials appealed that decision, but a court ruled in favor of COAH on Aug. 7, 2015.

On Sept. 4, state Superior Court Judge Jamie Perri denied a motion from Marlboro seeking temporary immunity.

On Oct. 2 the township filed a request with the court to temporarily halt proceedings in this matter. On Oct. 26 the court denied the request, according to documents filed in the case.

Affordable housing obligations in New Jersey have been assigned in three rounds since the mid-1980s.

When asked what the next steps for Marlboro will be in the affordable housing issue, Township Attorney Louis Rainone said, “The long and short of it is that Marlboro and municipalities across the state still have their second and third round obligations.

“Builders remedy suits cover the second round obligations and we are about to file a plan that we believe will fulfill the second round obligations. As for the third round obligations, we are waiting to see what the courts have to say before we can file a definite plan,” Rainone said.

Affordable housing in New Jersey is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and/or families whose income meets regional guidelines established by the state.