Tinton Falls introduces ordinance to conclude affordable housing issue

The Borough of Tinton Falls Council has scheduled March 19 as the date for a public hearing on an ordinance that will, if adopted, implement Tinton Falls’ third round housing plan element and fair share plan.

The ordinance relates to the development of affordable housing in the borough. Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets certain guidelines.

During the March 19 public hearing, residents may comment on and ask questions about the ordinance. Council members may adopt the ordinance following the public hearing.

Borough Council President Gary Baldwin, Deputy Council President John Manginelli, Councilman Christopher Pak, Councilwoman Nancyanne Fama and Councilman Brock Siebert introduced the ordinance on March 5.

If the ordinance is adopted, it will settle a legal action involving Tinton Falls and the Fair Share Housing Center, Cherry Hill. The Fair Share Housing Center advocates for the construction of affordable housing throughout New Jersey.

By way of explanation, the ordinance states that Tinton Falls has “entered into a settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center … establishing the borough’s third round affordable housing obligation for the period 1999-2025 and the compliance mechanisms by which the borough will meet its constitutional obligation to provide for its fair share of affordable housing.

“… The court entered an order on Nov. 7, 2018 approving the settlement agreement … finding on a preliminary basis that the settlement agreement is
fair to low and moderate income households,” the ordinance states.

To enact the settlement, Tinton Falls must adopt an affordable housing ordinance incorporating the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and its implementing
regulations, including the uniform housing affordability controls, into the municipal code.

The proposed ordinance describes how Tinton Falls will rehabilitate certain dwellings so those dwellings count toward the borough’s affordable housing obligation; how municipal officials will provide opportunities for the construction of affordable units at several locations; and how Tinton Falls will market its affordable housing on a regional basis to attract individuals who meet the qualifications needed to obtain affordable housing.

Prior to the introduction of the ordinance, attorney Andrew Bayer, who represents the borough on issues related to affordable housing, provided an update on the matter. He said Tinton Falls has achieved 597 affordable housing credits, including bonus credits received for certain housing.

Bayer said when the court puts its final stamp of approval on the settlement agreement – an action that he said could occur by the end of March – Tinton Falls will have immunity through July 1, 2025 from lawsuits relating to affordable housing.

“Tinton Falls has provided the necessary affordable housing and has additional affordable housing credits. The borough will be well poised going into the fourth round” of the state’s affordable housing program, Bayer told council members.

“We have worked hard to be where we are at,” Baldwin said of the borough’s affordable housing efforts.

Borough Administrator Michael Skudera said the ordinance that will come up for adoption on March 19 lays out the standards a developer would have to follow in order to construct affordable housing in the borough.

In conjunction with the affordable housing ordinance, the council is expected to adopt an ordinance that addresses development fees. Those two actions will settle the affordable housing issue in Tinton Falls, according to Bayer and the council members.