A long-running courtroom saga ended in victory for a group looking to enforce Hoboken’s affordable housing ordinance and a recent ruling should create significant affordable units in new developments throughout the city.
On September 30, a three-judge panel with the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division unanimously handed a victory to the Fair Share Housing Center. The nonprofit group was challenging a 2015 lower court ruling that declared four projects in Hoboken need not follow the city’s 10% affordable housing requirement because the ordinance was not enforced on any other development between its enactment in 1988 and 2011.
The properties that were seeking to be exempt from the affordable ordinance consist of Advance Realty’s Harlow (1330 Willow Avenue), The Artisan on Clinton (1400 Clinton Street), and two developments from Bijou Properties dubbed Park + Garden (1450 Garden Street) and Vine (900 Monroe Street).
Following the initial ruling against the ordinance, the lower court granted a motion to dismiss the case filed by a subsidiary of Bijou Properties. But Appellate Judge Jose L. Fuentes, writing for the panel, wrote that the law division erroneously granted summary judgment to the developers and declared that Hoboken’s affordable housing ordinance is valid.
“The developers who obtained approval to construct these high-end residential properties secured significant variances from the City’s zoning ordinance that substantially increased the value of their projects,” wrote Fuentes. “In return, they each agreed to comply with the requirements of the [affordable housing ordinance].”
The decision caps an eight-year legal battle and will create 56 affordable housing units within the four properties. Fair Share Housing Center Executive Director Adam Gordon applauded the ruling in a statement.
“At a time of national reckoning on issues of racial justice, it is more important than ever that cities and towns across New Jersey put in place and enforce laws that will help generate affordable housing opportunities for those working families, Black and Latino disproportionately, who have been squeezed by fierce gentrification and rapidly escalating housing prices,” Gordon said.
Fair Share Housing Center’s victory is is their second triumph in Hoboken over the span of a few months. The group previously fought zoning changes Hoboken’s council was considering in June that could have eliminated affordable units in a development near the city’s western edge.