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The original item was published from 5/9/2020 12:15:16 PM to 6/27/2020 12:00:00 AM.

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Posted on: May 8, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Public Notice of "Fairness and Preliminary Compliance Hearing" - Morris Commons





PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a "Fairness and Preliminary Compliance Hearing" will be held on June 25, 2020 at 1:30 pm before the Honorable Michael C. Gaus, J.S.C., Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County Courthouse, 43-47 High Street, Court Room 203, Newton, New Jersey 07860 to consider the proposed Settlement Agreement between the Township of Rockaway ("Township") and Fair Share Housing Center ("FSHC") in the Mount Laurel action entitled Morris Commons, LLC v. Township of Rockaway, et al., Docket No. MRS-L-3271-07.  This Hearing may take place in person or, due to the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by Governor Philip D. Murphy, Governor of the State of New Jersey on March 9, 2020 under Executive Order No. 103 (2020),  through virtual technology adopted for use by the Court.  If the Hearing is going to proceed through virtual technology, the Township will provide additional notice and instructions on its website ( on or before June 12, 2020. Anyone who desires to receive individual notice of the conversion to a virtual hearing and instructions on how to access the technology should provide an e-mail address or mailing address to Edward J. Buzak, Esq. at the e-mail or mailing address at the end of this Notice on or before June 12, 2020.

Through this judicial proceeding, the Court will evaluate whether the proposed Settlement Agreement is 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).  In addition, the purpose of the hearing is to consider whether the Township’s plan as summarized in the Settlement Agreement provides a realistic opportunity to satisfy the Township’s rehabilitation, Prior Round and Third Round "fair share" of the regional need for housing affordable to very-low income, low income and moderate income households pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301, et seq., the substantive, applicable regulations of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing ("COAH"), the New Jersey Supreme Court’s March 10, 2015 decision in the matter of In re: N.J.A.C. 5:96 & 5:97, 221 N.J. 1 (2015) and other applicable laws and judicial decisions.

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 lawsuit, has sought to enhance opportunities for very-low, low and moderate income housing.  The Township and FSHC have resolved various substantive issues concerning the Township’s affordable housing obligation and the means by which the Township intends to satisfy that obligation, subject to all required public hearings.  The terms of the settlement have been memorialized in a final Settlement Agreement executed on behalf of the Township and FSHC which is available on the Township’s website abovementioned for review by any interested person.  A hard copy of the executed final Settlement Agreement will be sent to anyone who makes such a request in writing to the Township Clerk at the address listed at the end of this Notice on or before June 12, 2020 and provides an electronic or mailing address to which the copy of the executed final Settlement Agreement should be sent.

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

1.         The Township has a Prior Round obligation of 370 units, which has been met through the following compliance mechanisms:

•Green Pond Village                                                               40

•Pleasant View Village                                                           75

•ARC of Morris County                                                         4

•Lakeside Group Home                                                          4

•Pondview Estates                                                                  100

•RCA with East Orange                                                          55

•Rental Bonus Credits                                                            92

2.         For the purposes of settlement, the parties agree that the Township’s Third Round (1999-2025) Prospective Need obligation is 567.

3.         The parties agree that the Township has a Third Round Realistic Development Potential (“RDP”) of 289 units and is also eligible for a durational adjustment pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:93-4.3 of 157 units of the 289-unit RDP. The Township’s RDP will be addressed as follows:

                        •30 affordable family rental units, 22 supportive housing bedrooms and 52 rental bonus credits at Morris Commons

                        •30 affordable sales units at the Hills by Lennar

                        •2 affordable rental units and 2 rental bonus credits at Sanders Road

                        •2 affordable units at Mine Hill Properties

                        •4 supportive housing bedrooms and 4 bonus credits at Allegro Group Home

                        •4 supportive housing bedrooms and 4 bonus credits at Allies, Inc. Group Home

                        •2 affordable sales units at Habitat for Humanity

                        •overlay zoning for 100 affordable units at Rockaway Mall

                        •overlay zoning for 41 affordable units at a property located at Block 10202, Lots                         27 & 28

                        •39 affordable units at a property located at Block 11501, Lots 2, 11 and 12

4.         The 338 units/credits to be created as set forth above, subtracted from the Third Round obligation of 567 units, results in an unmet need of 229 units which shall be addressed as follows:

                        •The adoption of Overlay Zoning Ordinances for the following properties:

-Block 11116, Lots 43 – density of 12 development units per acre (du/a) with 20% set-aside

-Block 11501, Lot 39 – density of 12 du/a with 20% set-aside

-Pawnee Avenue Corridor – density of 15 du/a with 20% set-aside

-Route 46/Highlands Ave – density of 15 du/a with 20% set-aside

•The adoption of a Mandatory Set-Aside Ordinance that will require a set-aside of 20% for all new multi-family residential development of 5 or more units that becomes permissible through a use variance, density variance, rezoning or new redevelopment plan.

5.         FSHC agrees that the Third Round Prospective Need obligation and the manner of satisfying it as summarized above fully satisfies the Township’s responsibilities regarding its affordable housing obligations under the applicable law.

6.         The parties have agreed that should the Township’s Third Round Prospective Need obligation be reduced by more than 10 percent as a result of the application of an opinion or decision by any Court or administrative agency having jurisdiction, the Township can seek to reduce its Third Round Prospective Need obligation accordingly.

7.         Upon the Court’s approval of the Settlement Agreement, the Township shall be granted a 10 year Judgment of Compliance and Repose for the time period of July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2025.

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 Agreement. Such comments or objections, together with copies of any supporting affidavits or other documents, must be filed in writing, on or before June 12, 2020.  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 12, 2020.  If the Hearing proceeds via virtual technology, interested parties filing comments or objections, and persons advising in writing of the desire to heard, will be provided instructions on how to participate in the Hearing. Regardless of whether the Hearing proceeds in person or through virtual technology, failure to provide written comments and objections, or written notice of the desire to be heard, may 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 19, 2020. 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, Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County Courthouse, 43-47 High Street, Court Room 203, Newton, New Jersey 07860, with copies of all papers being forwarded by mail or e-mail to:

The Honorable Eugene Serpentelli, J.S.C., Retired (Court Appointed Master)

Benchmark Resolutions, LLC

411 Princeton Avenue

Brick, NJ 08724

Edward J. Buzak, Esq.

The Buzak Law Group, LLC

150 River Road

Suite N4

Montville, NJ 07045

Phone: (973)335-0600

Telecopier: (973)335-1145



Christina Clipperton, Township Clerk

Township of Rockaway

Municipal Building

65 Mount Hope Road

Rockaway, New Jersey 07866

Adam M. Gordon, Esquire

Fair Share Housing Center

510 Park Boulevard

Cherry Hill, NJ  08002

Phone:  (856) 665-5444

Telecopier:  (856) 663-8182


Michael Rich, Esq.

Pozio Bromberg and Newman

100 Southgate Parkway

Morristown, NJ 07962

Steven Firkser, Esq.

Greenbaum Rowe

99 Wood Avenue South

Iselin, New Jersey 08830

Henry Kent-Smith, Esq.

Fox Rothschild, LLP

997 Lenox Drive – Building 3

Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648

 Ronald Cucchiaro, Esq.

Weiner Law Group

331 Newman Springs Road

Building 1, Suite 136

Red Bank, New Jersey 07701

Christopher Minks, Esq.

Russo Development

570 Commerce Boulevard

Carlstadt, New Jersey 07072

This Notice is intended to inform all interested parties of the existence of the Settlement Agreement and the possible consequences of Court approval of the Settlement Agreement. 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 settlement, or whether the Court will approve the settlement or enter a Judgment of Compliance and Repose.

Dated: May 8, 2020                                        /s/ Christina Clipperton                                               

                                                                        Christina Clipperton, Township Clerk

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