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2020 Midpoint Review Report
Under the Fair Housing Act, the Borough is required to post a Midpoint Review Report. Click on the following to link to view the Midpoint Review Report: Midpoint Review
Please be advised that Frank Piazza is now the affordable housing agent for the Borough of Montvale: You can contact Mr. Piazza's office with any questions in regard to the housing units in Montvale.
- Frank Piazza
- Piazza & Associates, Inc.
- Tel: 609-786-1100, Ext. 301
- Fax: 609-786-1105
- 216 Rockingham Row
- Princeton, NJ 08540
AFFORDABLE HOUSING APPLICATIONS:
Piazza & Associates, Inc.
Affordable Housing Background & Frequently Asked Questions
In 1975 the Supreme Court ruled (in a decision commonly referred to as Mt. Laurel I) that municipalities have a constitutional obligation to enact zoning regulations that create a realistic opportunity for the development of the municipality’s fair share of affordable housing. The “Mt. Laurel Doctrine” essentially states that a community cannot zone in such a way to exclude low- and moderate-income households (i.e. have exclusionary zoning).
Examples of such “exclusionary zoning” include:
Single-family zoning with large minimum lot size requirements.
Minimum house size requirements which drive up the cost of housing construction and consequently, housing prices.
Prohibition of multi-family housing.
Limitation on number of bedrooms in multi-family dwellings to limit household sizes.
Prohibition of mobile homes.
Over-zoning for non-residential uses.
COAH is the Council on Affordable Housing which was established under the Fair Housing Act of 1985, the legislative response to the Mt. Laurel II decision. COAH created rules and procedures for communities to follow to satisfy their constitutional obligation to build affordable housing. The regulations that have been issued by COAH have been divided into “rounds.” Round One covered the time period from 1987 to 1993. Round Two covered the period from 1993 through 1999. Round Three was originally intended to pick up more or less where Round Two left off. Under all of these regulations, towns were given the option of either:
1) filing affordable housing plans with COAH (who would review for compliance), or
2) doing nothing and risking a “builder’s remedy lawsuit” (which is explained later).
If a community filed an affordable housing plan with COAH that was deemed complete and satisfactory, the municipality would receive what is called “Substantive Certification.” Substantive Certification provided towns with a period of immunity from builder’s remedy lawsuits. Montvale filed an affordable housing plan in 2000 for Round Two and received Substantive Certification in 2004. Montvale filed its Round Three plan in 2008, and that application was deemed complete; however, through no fault of the Borough’s, COAH stopped issuing Substantive Certifications in 2010. The agency ceased issuing certifications as they had failed to approve constitutionally-compliant regulations for Round Three. Now, due to a variety of executive and judicial decisions, COAH is no longer reviewing affordable housing plans. As a result, Montvale has not received Substantive Certification for Round Three.
In 2008, when COAH was still functioning, Montvale’s affordable housing obligation, as calculated by COAH, was:
Rehabilitation – 5 units
Round Two – 255 units (adjusted to 188 due to a vacant land adjustment)
Round Three – 265 units (2008-2018)
Since the Supreme Court decision in 2015, numerous new sets of numbers for affordable housing have been promulgated for every town in the State of New Jersey. The Fair Share Housing Center (“FSHC”), a group that advocates for the construction of affordable units and who is also an intervening party in the Borough’s pending Declaratory Judgment action, has determined that Montvale has an obligation of 586 units for the Round Three, which they calculate to include the 15-year “Gap” period from 1999 through 2014, as well as the 10-year “prospective” period of 2015-2025. Econsult, who represents the municipalities, calculated the Borough’s Round Three obligation to be 349 units (2015-2025), and has taken the position that there is no “Gap” period obligation. There is also a third set of numbers being developed by Richard Reading, who has been appointed as a “Numbers Master” for multiple counties (although not yet Bergen). The battle over whose numbers will be accepted by the courts is presently being fought before both the Appellate Division and the New Jersey Supreme Court and maybe resolved in mid- to late-2017.
In addition, the issue of whether a “Gap” obligation exists was recently argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court. Based on the opinions expressed by the Justices during oral argument, however, municipal representatives have generally been pessimistic about the outcome. Inclusion of a “Gap” period obligation could add approximately 25%-35% to the numbers developed by Econsult and Reading.
It should be noted that these obligations cited above are for affordable units only. Based upon an 80%/20% market/affordable ratio for inclusionary development, as the Borough typically insists on for affordable housing inclusionary development, these numbers could mean that the Borough would have to zone for the creation of between 1,745 and 2,930 more total units in the community in a best case scenario. If the ratio was instead 85%/15% (which is more typical statewide), the range could be between 2,327 and 3,907 units, if all of the units were constructed as part of inclusionary developments. This is the primary reason why the Borough is being pro-active in seeking proposals from developers that will have the smallest overall impact on the Borough, through higher affordable set-asides, 100% affordable developments, group homes, and other compliance mechanisms that will hopefully limit the number of market-rate units that will need to be approved to satisfy the Borough’s obligation.
The Court decisions, legislation and regulations discussed above are the unfortunate reality that the Borough has to live with. Absent a Constitutional Amendment or other dramatic legislative change, the Borough is forced to operate within the confines of the Mt. Laurel Doctrine as it has been interpreted by the Courts and implemented by the Legislature. The Borough’s affordable housing obligations are not going to just go away. This is why it is critically important for Borough officials, with productive input from residents, to pro-actively seek to:
1) foster responsible residential development in the community;
2) protect the Borough from builder’s remedy lawsuits and other penalties; and
3) support the retention and growth of the commercial sector where possible.
As the Mayor and Council have previously stated, the Borough is evaluating all available options to preserve the character of Montvale. This includes seeking a vacant land adjustment due to a lack of vacant and developable land in the Borough. Borough officials have been meeting with various property owners, especially those with vacant or underutilized buildings, concerning potential development proposals to find solutions that will responsibly guide future development in town.
The Borough is also investigating a variety of mechanisms to create affordable units that will help satisfy the Borough’s constitutional obligation to provide for affordable housing, while responsibly limiting the total number of new residential units that are required. Building or approving assisted living facilities and group homes, extending existing deed restrictions, and sponsoring/subsidizing 100% affordable developments are but a few of the mechanisms available to the Borough. All of these options are on the table and are being actively pursued to the extent that they are in the best interests of Montvale.
Montvale, like the majority of suburban New Jersey municipalities, is confronted with the practical reality of having to find appropriate locations and plan for affordable housing. The courts have ruled that it is Montvale’s responsibility to provide a realistic opportunity for the construction of housing for low- and moderate-income households. With this obligation comes the requirement to permit residential development beyond what we may have ideally envisioned for our community. It is the goal of the Mayor and Council, with active public input and cooperation, to satisfy the Borough’s obligations in a way that will ultimately enhance and improve our community.