Franklin Lakes September 30, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 7 Borough balks at Appellate Court’s COAH decision by Frank J. McMahon The Franklin Lakes Borough Council wants the New Jersey State Legislature to immediately pass legislation to correct a recent decision by the Appellate Division of Superior Court in Burlington County under which a municipality could be sued to allow construction of affordable multi-family housing on lots planned for single-family development, even after the municipality has met its fair share obligations. The Appellate Court decision was rendered in the case of Homes of Hope v. the Township of Eastampton and affirmed a lower court ruling that a developer can still argue that affordable housing is inherently beneficial and compel a municipality to accept more than its fair share of a regional need, even if the municipality has already satisfied that need. The Franklin Lakes Council feels the decision has created a conflict between the concept of inherently beneficial uses under the state’s Municipal Land Use Law, and the requirement for municipalities to provide their fair share of affordable housing under the state’s Fair Housing Act. The governing body wants the state to immediately pass legislation to correct the Eastampton decision by providing that no municipality may be compelled, through variance or otherwise, to provide more than its fair share of affordable housing. According to a resolution passed by the council, this action was brought against Eastampton even though that township had exceeded its affordable housing obligations. In a concurring opinion, one of the Appellate Court judges suggested that the state legislature may need to act to correct this problem, in which the state’s commitment to affordable housing can conflict with the constitutional reservation of land use powers to local bodies. The Legal Intervention Advisory Committee of the New Jersey League of Municipalities is reviewing the decision to determine whether that organization should get involved if Eastampton decides to bring the case to the State Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the League of Municipalities has recommended that all municipalities in the state pass a resolution asking the legislature to pass the recommended legislation. The council acted immediately to do so and sent copies of the resolution to State Senator Kevin J. O’Toole, Assemblymen Scott Rumana and David C. Russo, the president of the New Jersey Senate, the speaker of the General Assembly, the New Jersey League of Municipalities, and Governor Jon Corzine. The decision raises a concern on the part of municipal officials because it could negate the assurance that a municipality is protected from builders’ lawsuits once its affordable housing plan is certified by the state’s Council on Affordable Housing. The borough submitted its latest affordable housing plan to COAH at the end of last year. The plan identifies three zones in the borough as areas where additional affordable housing would be permitted, along with two properties owned by the borough, to provide the reasonable opportunity for the construction of 72 affordable housing units within Franklin Lakes. The plan calls for rezoning the retail business zone in the downtown business area on Franklin Avenue to permit affordable housing units above the stores, a 40-unit assisted living facility in the I1 industrial zone in the Commerce Street area, and multifamily residential affordable housing units in the I-2 industrial zone on Susquehanna Avenue, along with two properties on DeKorte Drive, which are owned by the borough. One of the DeKorte Drive properties would include a special needs single family house on a lot near Franklin Avenue which would have five bedrooms and count as five affordable housing units. The other would include 12 affordable housing units that would be built on borough owned property across the street from the municipal building. Otto brings safety message to local school The North Jersey Foundation for safety’s ‘Otto the Auto’ recently visited the students of Colonial Road School in Franklin Lakes. Otto and Officer Frank O’Brien spoke to the students about pedestrian safety. The American Automobile Association’s pedestrian safety film ‘See and Be Seen’ was also enjoyed by the students. Pictured are kindergarten student Ciro Schiro, Officer Frank O’Brien and kindergarten student Anthony Schiro. 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