Township Council Reaches Affordable Housing Pact

On Monday, November 2, the Livingston Township Council held a special meeting to approve a settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing Corporation concerning the town’s affordable housing obligations. The meeting was held virtually and may be viewed on the Livingston Township, NJ Facebook page.

The document has to be signed after it has been approved, at which point it will become a public document. That was not confirmed to have happened before the Tribune’s print deadline, as the FSHC also has to sign the document.

The agreement states that FSHC and Livingston acknowledge that the township does not accept the methodology or calculations proffered by FSHC, and both parties instead agree to the terms of the settlement agreement. While details have not yet been disclosed, the third round of the Mount Laurel Doctrine and Fair Share Housing Act of 1985 runs from 1999 through 2025.

Township manager Barry Lewis said that reaching the appropriate levels of affordable housing has been an ongoing issue in New Jersey for decades, and this settlement should provide Livingston protection against builder’s remedy lawsuits. Those lawsuits are used by developers to force construction in town; the developers cite a need for more affordable housing as justification to build against the desires of the town.

Lewis said the township fared as well as it could with the agreement, which is why a special meeting was held, to approve it as soon as it was reached.

“All in all, we are protected,” Lewis said. “This is a big step in returning control to the township.”

Little was said by the Council upon approving the resolution, other than to thank those who helped make it possible. Councilman Michael Vieira said the Council was advised by township attorney Shari Weiner to not make specific comments before the document is made public.

Councilman Al Anthony said the settlement should put an end to affordable housing-related litigation in Livingston for the next few years.

Deputy mayor Shawn Klein noted that while the township does not necessarily receive everything it hopes for when reaching a settlement, it does return control back to Livingston officials in regards to development.

“The benefits outweigh the detriments,” Klein said.

Mayor Rudy Fernandez said that complying with affordable housing obligations is a struggle for every municipality, and reaching a settlement, and therefore more control over the situation, is better than the alternative.

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