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Posted on: May 21, 2019

Public Notice of "Fairness Hearing" - Morris Commons

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TOWNSHIP OF ROCKAWAY


PUBLIC NOTICE OF "FAIRNESS HEARING" TO APPROVE 

SETTLEMENT OF MOUNT LAUREL LITIGATION



PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a "Fairness Hearing" will be held on June 21, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. before the Honorable Michael C. Gaus, J.S.C., Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, at the Sussex County Courthouse located at 43-47 High Street, Court Room 203, Newton, New Jersey 07860 to consider the proposed Settlement Agreements between (1) the Township of Rockaway ("Township") and Morris Commons, LLC (“Morris Commons”) in the Mount Laurel action entitled Morris Commons, LLC v. Township of Rockaway and Township of Rockaway Planning Board, Docket No. MRS-L-3271-07, and (2) the Township, Morris Commons and Fair Share Housing Center (“FSHC”) in the Mount Laurel action entitled Fair Share Housing Center, Inc. v. Township of Rockaway, Planning Board of the Township of Rockaway and Morris Commons, LLC, Docket No. MRS-L-2425-18. Through this judicial proceeding, the Court will evaluate whether the proposed Settlement Agreements are fair and reasonable to the region's very-low, low and moderate income households according to the principles set forth in Morris County Fair Housing Council v. Boonton Tp., 197 N.J. Super. 359 (Law Div.1984), aff'd o.b., 209 N.J. Super. 108 (App. Div. 1986) and East/West Venture v. Bor. of Fort Lee, 286 N.J. Super.311 (App. Div. 1996).  


Morris Commons is the owner of approximately 45.18 acres of property located in the Township of Rockaway and known and designated as Block 22401, Lots 3.06 and 3.07 on the Official Tax Map of the Township of Rockaway and commonly known as 600-700 Commons Way, Rockaway, New Jersey (“Property”).  In connection with the above mentioned litigation, Morris Commons sought to construct an inclusionary residential development containing an affordable housing component on the Property.  The Township and Morris Commons have resolved various substantive issues concerning the development of the Property and the terms of the settlement have been memorialized in a Settlement Agreement executed on behalf of the Township and Morris Commons, which is available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours at the office of the Acting Municipal Clerk, Township of Rockaway, 65 Mount Hope Road, Rockaway, New Jersey 07866.  


The terms of the settlement with Morris Commons include, but are not limited to, the following:


1.    The Property will be developed with 345 non-age restricted rental apartment dwelling units, a maximum of 305 of which will be market rate units and a minimum of 40 of which will be affordable housing units (“AHU’s”).  The maximum 305 market rate rental units will have 4 three-bedroom units, 185 two-bedroom units and 116 one-bedroom units.  The inclusionary affordable housing component consisting of a minimum of 40 non-age restricted rental units will consist of 8 three-bedroom units, 24 two-bedroom units and 8 one-bedroom units.  Two (2) three-bedroom AHU’s; two (2) two-bedroom AHU’s; and two (2) one-bedroom AHU’s shall be reserved for very low income households.  The AHU’s shall be integrated and dispersed with the market-rate units in the development and shall be governed by controls on affordability and affirmatively marketed in accordance with the Uniform Housing Affordability Controls or any successor statutes or regulations, except as to the very low income housing obligation which shall be as required by N.J.S.A. 52:27D-329.1 and the terms of the Settlement Agreement.  The affordability controls shall apply for a minimum of thirty (30) years and until the Township elects to release the controls.  


Fair Share Housing Center ("FSHC"), a public interest organization representing the housing rights of New Jersey's poor and an interested party in connection with the above-referenced litigation, has sought to enhance opportunities for very-low, low and moderate income housing.  The Township, Morris Commons and FSHC have resolved various substantive issues concerning the development of the Property and the terms of the settlement have been memorialized in a Settlement Agreement which is scheduled for approval by the Township on May 28, 2019.  That Settlement Agreement is available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours at the office of the Acting Municipal Clerk, Township of Rockaway, 65 Mount Hope Road, Rockaway, New Jersey 07866.


The terms of the settlement with FSHC and Morris Commons include, but are not limited to, the following:


1.    Ten (10) of the forty (40) AHU’s to be developed at the Property shall be marketed as non-age restricted “alternative living arrangements” to be made available to supportive needs tenants (“Supportive Units”).  


2.    Since affordable housing credits are awarded for each bedroom in supportive needs facilities resulting in additional credits (as compared to traditional affordable housing which receives credit based upon the entire unit), 8 two-bedroom AHUs and 2 three-bedroom AHUs shall be marketed and leased as Supportive Units to Supportive Needs Providers or Facilities.  Five (5) of the Supportive Units shall be leased as moderate income units, and five (5) of the Supportive Units shall be leased as low income units.

3.    If all of the Supportive Units are leased to Supportive Needs Providers or Facilities, the Township will receive twenty-two (22) credits for the Supportive Units (as compared to ten (10) credits when leased as traditional affordable housing units) and the affordable housing set-aside for the inclusionary development to be constructed at the Property will be fifteen (15%) percent.


Any interested party, including, without limitation, any very-low, low or moderate income person residing in the housing region, any organization representing the interests of very-low, low and moderate income persons, any owner of property in the Township, or any organization representing the interests of owners of property in the Township may file comments on, or objections to, the Settlement Agreements. Such comments or objections, together with copies of any supporting affidavits or other documents, must be filed in writing, on or before June 7, 2019.  In addition, any person wishing to be heard, whether or not a written objection has been filed, shall advise of that intention in writing on or before June 7, 2019. Failure to provide such written notice will preclude presentation of any evidence, oral presentation or argument.  Written responses by any of the parties to the comments or objections shall be filed on or before June 14, 2019. Such comments, objections and responses, together with copies of any supporting affidavits or other documents, must be filed in writing with the Honorable Michael C. Gaus, J.S.C. at the Sussex County Courthouse located at 43-47 High Street, Court Room 203, Newton, New Jersey 07860 with copies of all papers being forwarded by mail or e-mail to:


Honorable Eugene Serpentelli (Court Appointed Master)

Benchmark Resolutions, LLC

411 Princeton Avenue

Brick, New Jersey 08724

eds@benchmarkresolutions.com


Christina Clipperton, Acting Municipal Clerk

Township of Rockaway

Municipal Building

65 Mount Hope Road

Rockaway, New Jersey 07866

cclipperton@rockawaytownship.org


Edward J. Buzak, Esq.

The Buzak Law Group, LLC

150 River Road, Suite N-4

Montville, New Jersey 07045

ejbuzak@buzaklawgroup.com


Kevin D. Walsh, Esq.

Fair Share Housing Center

510 Park Boulevard

Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08002

kevinwalsh@fairsharehousing.org


Michael Rich, Esq.

Porzio Bromberg and Newman

100 Southgate Parkway

Morristown, New Jersey 07962

MLRich@pbnlaw.com


Steven Firkser, Esq.

Greenbaum Rowe

99 Wood Avenue South

Iselin, New Jersey 08830

SFirkser@greenbaumlaw.com

 

Henry Kent-Smith, Esq.

Fox Rothschild, LLP

997 Lenox Drive - Building 3

Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648

hkent-smith@foxrothschild.com


Ronald D. Cucchiaro, Esq.

Weiner Law Group

331 Newman Springs Road

Building 1, Suite 136

Red Bank, New Jersey 07701

rcucchiaro@weiner.law


Christopher H. Minks, Esq.

Russo Development

570 Commerce Boulevard

Carlstadt, New Jersey 07072

cminks@russodevelopment.com


This Notice is intended to inform all interested parties of the existence of the Settlement Agreements and the possible consequences of Court approval of the Settlement Agreements. It does not indicate any view by the Court as to the merits of the above referenced Mount Laurel action, the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the settlements, or whether the Court will approve the settlements.




Dated: May 22, 2019                /s/ Christina Clipperton

                                                      Christina Clipperton, 

                                                      Acting Municipal Clerk


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