COURT HOUSE - The Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC), a nonprofit affordable housing advocacy group, filed in Superior Court June 1 to have Middle Township’s over two-year-old affordable housing declaratory judgment dismissed, claiming that the municipality has not acted in good faith to produce an acceptable fair share housing plan.
That 2019 judgment and the immunity that followed protected Middle Township against exclusionary zoning actions by potential housing developers.
Business Administrator Kimberly Krauss June 14 said, “A balanced plan to chart a future course on affordable housing in the township is nearing final form."
Three months later, that plan has not been made available even in draft form for public consideration. A reaffirmation by the municipality of its commitment to voluntary compliance with its affordable housing obligations occurred June 21, in the form of a resolution adopted by Middle Township Committee.
A July 7 conference with Judge John Porto resulted in court-ordered mediation between the parties and temporary reinstatement of the municipality’s immunity that lapsed.
That same day, the municipality introduced an affordable housing set-aside ordinance to require certain affordable housing opportunities within projects of a certain size in the town center zone. In August, the municipality tabled the ordinance.
At the committee's Sept. 8 meeting, Mayor Timothy Donohue responded to a question during public comment, stating that the negotiations with the FSHC were ongoing and he was confident that would result in an agreement.
The FSHC has repeatedly accused the municipality of dragging its feet on the issue and putting up an appearance of action. The municipality has repeatedly denied that it acted in bad faith.
Both sides have a conference scheduled Sept. 24 with Porto. The judge’s stay of the termination of the municipality’s immunity from exclusionary zoning actions expires Sept. 30, unless it is extended.