Hoboken's approval of Willow Street project violates low-income housing requirements, lawsuit alleges

Hoboken's approval of Willow Street project violates low-income housing requirements, lawsuit alleges

Saturday, July 23, 2011 - Jersey Journal

Fair Share Housing Center has filed a suit charging the Zoning Board and Advance at Hoboken LLC, the developer of a planned 140-unit housing development at 1300 Willow St., with failing to comply with fair housing regulations.

The center, which was created in 1975 to ensure fair housing in New Jersey, filed suit challenging the approval and seeking compliance with Hoboken’s ordinance on housing for lower-income households.

The suit was filed in Hudson County Superior Court on July 6.

Fair Share Housing Center Associate Director Kevin Walsh said 10 percent of new housing in the city is required to be available for lower-income families, but the rule is not being enforced in new developments.

“Hoboken should be adding modestly priced housing when it adds luxury housing,” he said. “This is easy to do, and it should be done at 1300 Willow St. and in other developments throughout the city.”

The rule applies to residential developments that have more than 10 units in a building. The developer also must release the number of low-income units and the size of the units, according to the Hoboken Municipal Code.

Dennis Galvin, an attorney representing the Hoboken Zoning Board, said the board will defend itself in the lawsuit and that the board “complied with all ordinances,” set by the city.

The complaint from the Fair Share Housing Center, located in Cherry Hill, said the Zoning Board of Hoboken approved the project by Advance at Hoboken LLC on May 17 without the developer filing a plan of compliance or a statement on the number and type of affordable units to be provided.

Hoboken NAACP president Eugene Drayton called on the city to stand behind its ordinance and to ensure that developers provide housing for all income ranges.

“Hoboken has seen a lot of new housing in recent decades. There’s no reason why 10 or 20 percent of new housing isn’t affordable,” he said.

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Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC), founded in 1975, is the only public interest organization entirely devoted to defending the housing rights of New Jersey’s poor through enforcement of the Mount Laurel Doctrine, the landmark decision that prohibits economic discrimination through exclusionary zoning and requires all towns to provide their “fair share” of their region’s need for affordable housing.

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