UPDATE (5/27/2020): Councilwoman Julia Taylor and Councilwoman Maddy Urbish hosted a live virtual Teach-In Webinar via Zoom on Affordable Housing on May 7th at 7:00pm.


View on Youtube: https://youtu.be/RXbLgpaCn2c 

The Teach-in included presentations from experts Beth McManus, Principal, KYLE+MCMANUS Associates and Rev. Eric Dobson, Deputy Director, Fair Share Housing Center on affordable housing in New Jersey. There was also a robust question and answer session during which residents asked questions of our presenters as well as Lambertville’s City Planner Emily Goldman. Due to technical difficulties, the recording of the webinar is delayed a few minutes in. The introduction from Councilwoman Maddy Urbish and Councilwoman Julia Taylor, as well as an intro from Beth

McManus did not get recorded. You can find their introductions below before watching the video. Councilwoman Taylor welcomed everyone to the Affordable Housing Webinar and went over the agenda, including having presentations from two experts and then a lengthy question and answer session to allow for discussion with residents. She let participants know that the event was being recorded to allow it to be posted on the City’s website after the fact for interested residents who aren’t able to participate. Recording official city meetings has been brought up previously and

Councilwoman Taylor reminded everyone that it would be a topic of discussion at the next City Council meeting. Finally, Councilwoman Taylor let participants know that she and Councilwoman Urbish would moderate the Q&A portion of the meeting and went over the process for participating then.

Councilwoman Urbish then introduced the two presenters for the evening. Beth McManus has more than 17 years of experience in public- and private-sector planning, including preparing numerous planning-related studies. These include master plan elements, reexamination reports, redevelopment investigation and plans, housing plans, and development regulations for municipal and private clients. She has also advised many municipal planning boards, zoning boards, and governing bodies on public policy and land development practice. Finally, Beth has years of experience working on affordable housing issues with municipalities and the New Jersey Superior Court and has worked on over 40 cases.

“Councilwoman Urbish introduced the two panelists:

Beth McManus has more than 17 years of experience in public- and private-sector planning, including preparing numerous planning-related studies. These include master plan elements, reexamination reports, redevelopment investigation and plans, housing plans, and development regulations for municipal and private clients. She has also advised many municipal planning boards, zoning boards, and governing bodies on public policy and land development practice. Finally, Beth has years of experience working on affordable housing issues with municipalities and the New Jersey Superior Court and has worked on over 40 cases.

Reverend Eric Dobson is Fair Share Housing Center’s Deputy Director. Eric joined Fair Share Housing Center as Director of Community Engagement in 2012 and is an ordained minister, a community organizer, outreach specialist and social entrepreneur. He holds a B.A. from Temple University in Religion. He has extensive experience working with diverse audiences and communities and specializes in interfaith outreach. Eric is the Co-Founder of Open Communities LLC, a racial integration consultant firm that works to resolve simple and complex conflicts of race, ethnicity and socio- economics. He also founded a non-profit focused on youth development and education, Planting Seeds of Hope, and in 2008 served as the PA Clergy Outreach Director for the Obama Campaign.”





UPDATE (5/22/2020):
Judge Miller issued his decision on the City's Fairness and Compliance Hearing on May 21, 2020.  The Judge's decision concluded that "the Court finds that the Agreement between FSHC and Lambertville is fair and in the interests of the protected class of low and moderate income households in the Region".

The Judge incorporated all of the Court-appointed Master's recommended conditions of compliance, including but not limited to:
  • Adopting a resolution endorsing the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan within 30 days of the Court Order.
  • Adopting a Redevelopment Plan for the Police Station site by December 31, 2020
  • Selecting a Redeveloper and executing a Redevelopment Agreement for the Police Station site by May 15, 2021
The Judge has indicated he will retain jurisdiction over this matter to monitor the City's compliance efforts.  “The Court will issue an order for ‘Conditional Judgment of Compliance and Repose’ as, in the Court’s view, the City has made sufficient strides and progress so as to be entitled to the legal protections inherent in such an award.” 

A full copy of  the Judge's decision can be found here.  


UPDATE (5/18/2020): 
A copy of the City’s final summation submitted to the Court on May 15, 2020 is provided here.  A copy of Fair Share Housing Center’s final summation submitted to the Court on May 15, 2020 is provided here.

(UPDATED 5/15/2020): 
May 12th Court Proceedings: Following a long hearing, filled with substantial public participation, Judge Miller stated that he would not render a decision at the end of the hearing.   Rather  he would be issuing a written opinion on or before Friday May 22nd.  He is permitting all parties who were in attendance at the hearing to submit additional summations for his consideration; those are due by Friday, May 15, 2020. The City Council will not act on any Affordable Housing resolutions or ordinances until the Judge has issued his written opinion.  

UPDATE (5/8/2020):
The Court has provided the following guidance as to how the public may participate in the upcoming Fairness/Compliance Hearing scheduled for May 12, 2020 at 2 PM.

UPDATE (5/6/2020)
:
  Join us on Thursday, May 7th at 7 PM for a virtual teach-in to provide the public with more information on affordable housing in New Jersey and Lambertville’s settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing Center, and an opportunity for participants to ask questions and engage in a dialogue with outside experts, staff from Fair Share Housing Center, and Lambertville’s City Planner.  The meeting information can be found here

UPDTATE 4/30/2020:
Please find the City's letter and detailed point-by-point response to misinformation that was circulated by the NJ Sierra Club here

UPDATE (4/24/2020)
: Fair Share Housing Center has issued the following statement regarding the City's efforts in satisfying its affordable housing obligation and correcting other information that had been circulated in the community. The City will be releasing a statement on Monday 4/27 with more information, which will be posted here.

UPDATE (4/24/2020):  A copy of the public notice for the May 12, 2020 that was published in both the Trenton Times and the Hunterdon County Democrat on April 2 is provided herein.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING 


Lambertville has a long, rich history in assisting its low-income population and rehabilitating sub-standard homes.  In 1965, Lady Bird Johnson came to Lambertville to inaugurate the War on Poverty that her husband, President Johnson, had just initiated.  Lambertville’s participation in the new public assistance program set the precedent for this small community.  Since that time, Lambertville has continued to rehabilitate and construct new affordable housing units..  Additionally, Lambertville has two (2) affordable age-restricted apartment complexes, Hibernia Apartments and South Hunterdon Apartments, that were developed pre-1980 using funding from the Farmers Home Administration; both of which have received Payments in Lieu of Taxes (“PILOTs”) since they were built..        

Lambertville has demonstrated a long-standing commitment of compliance with its Mount Laurel fair share obligations.  The municipality addressed its constitutional affordable housing obligation in response to the New Jersey Fair Housing Act (“FHA”)and the Council on Affordable Housing’s (“COAH’s”) First Round, Second Round and Third Round regulations (both adopted iterations from 2004 and 2008).   

For an introduction to the City’s affordable housing, please see the Community Development Fair Trifold.

For a summary of the affordable housing judicial and legislative history, please see the Mount Laurel History.

For a list of affordable housing definitions, please see the Affordable Housing Definitions.  For a full list of affordable housing definitions, please see the definitions included within the Ordinance 23-2018 below.

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”), please click here.

For a timeline of how the City got to the Amended Settlement Agreement click here


LAMBERTVILLE’S HISTORY ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMPLIANCE

As previously stated, Lambertville has a long history of complying with its affordable housing obligation.  In fact, as demonstrated in the below timeline, the City adopted its initial Housing Element and Fair Share Plan (“HEFSP”) before it even had a court mandated obligation for affordable housing.  


AH webpage text

Despite the fact that COAH never certified the City’s Third Round Plan, the City proceeded to take steps to produce affordable housing and is entitled to Third Round credits for units that have actually been built and/or approved.

Current Affordable Housing Status

To comply with the March 10, 2015 Mount Laurel IV decision, Lambertville petitioned to the Superior Court on July 8, 2015 for a declaratory judgment and temporary immunity from builder’s remedy suits. Fair Share Housing Center (“FSHC”) is an interested party in its declaratory judgment, and in 2018, the City entered into successful negotiations with FSHC to identify its fair share obligation and preliminarily how that obligation would be satisfied. These negotiations resulted in a Settlement Agreement between the City and FSHC that was executed by the City on May 22, 2018. The Court issued an Order on October 11, 2018 stating that the Settlement Agreement was fair to the interests of low and moderate income households. The Court also preliminarily found that the manner in which the Settlement Agreement satisfied the obligation was reasonable, subject to several conditions.  The Court Order includes conditions that required the City to identify a redeveloper for the Former Lambertville High School site within six months of a final judgment of repose (Condition 7) and an executed Redeveloper Agreement within nine months of a final judgment of repose (Condition 8).

In order to implement the terms of the May 22, 2018 Settlement Agreement, the City adopted the following:


However, since the City failed to adopt the inclusionary overlay ordinance on the Closson Farmstead (the Holcombe site), the City had to identify substitution projects.  The City identified a number of potential sites for mixed-income, inclusionary overlay zoning or redevelopment plans, but each site ultimately fell through (see the COAH Timeline for more details).  The City was also faced with multiple lawsuits related to the condemnation of the former Lambertville High School site.  As a result, the City was at a stalemate and struggled with satisfying the conditions of the May 22, 2018 Settlement Agreement.

Under pressure from the Court to resolve this matter, the City entered into negotiations with FSHC for an amended Settlement Agreement that would contain substitute projects for the Closson Farmstead (the Holcombe site) and get out from under the condemnation requirement for the former Lambertville High School site.

Subsequently, the City and FSHC agreed to present an amended Settlement Agreement to the trial court with jurisdiction over this matter to review.  This amended Settlement Agreement, upon approval by the Court at a Fairness and Preliminary Compliance Hearing, will replace the City’s prior Settlement Agreement in its entirety.

The Amended Settlement Agreement requires the City to: 

  • Adopt an Amended Housing Element and Fair Share Plan 
  • Adopt an Amended Lambertville High School Redevelopment Plan
  • Designate the Police Station Lot as an area in need of redevelopment
  • Adopt a Redevelopment Plan for the Police Station Lot 
For a timeline of how the City got to the Amended Settlement Agreement click here

Settlement Agreement Documents

January 29, 2020 Amended Settlement Agreement

October 11, 2018 Court Order Approving Settlement Agreement

May 22, 2018 Settlement Agreement


Affordable Housing Documents


March 4, 2020 Adopted Housing Element and Fair Share Plan

April 23, 2020 Amended Lambertville High School Redevelopment Plan

Ordinance 05-2019 Overlay Ordinances

Ordinance 23-2018 Affordable Housing Ordinance

December 3, 2018 Endorsed Housing Element and Fair Share Plan

November 26, 2018 Adopted Lambertville High School Redevelopment Plan

Resolution 171-2018 Affirmative Marketing Plan


INCOME LIMITS

Affordable housing is defined under New Jersey’s Fair Housing Act as a dwelling, either for sale or rent, that is within the financial means of households of low- or moderate-income, as is measured within each housing region. The City of Lambertville is in COAH’s Region 3, which includes Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Somerset counties. 

Affordable Housing Income Categories are as follows:

  • Moderate-Income: 50% to 80% regional median income
  • Low-Income: 50% regional median income or less
  • Very-Low Income: 30% regional median income or less
The Uniform Housing Affordability Controls (hereinafter “UHAC”) at N.J.A.C. 5:80-26.3(d) and (e) requires that: 

  • Rental Units
    • Maximum rent for a qualified unit be affordable to households with incomes 60% or less than the median income for the region.
    • Average rent must be affordable to households with incomes no greater than 52% of the median income. 
  • For-Sale Units
    • Maximum sale prices for affordable units must be affordable to households with incomes 70% or less than the median income. 
    • Average sale price must be affordable to a household with an income of 55% or less than the median income.
Calculating Income Limits

To update income limits, the City will rely on the methodology set forth and approved by the Superior Court that establishes the criteria to follow to annually update income limits.  Income limits for all units that are part of the City's Housing Element and Fair Share Plan, excluding those which income limits are already established through a federal program, shall be updated by the City as HUD publishes median incomes and income limits. 

The Affordable Housing Professionals of New Jersey (“AHPNJ”) and FSHC have jointly developed updated income limits for all housing regions in New Jersey, which were calculated using the methodology outlined above. These income limits for Region 3 will be utilized for Lambertville.

2019 Income Limits


MONITORING/STATUS REPORTS

On the first anniversary of the execution the FSHC amended agreement dated January 29, 2020, and every anniversary thereafter through the end of the agreement, the City agrees to provide annual reporting of trust fund activity to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (“NJDCA”), COAH, or NJ Local Government Services (“NJLGS”), or other entity designated by the State of New Jersey, with a copy provided to FSHC and posted on the municipal website, using forms developed for this purpose by the NJDCA, COAH, or LGS.

The reporting shall include an accounting of all housing trust fund activity, including the source and amount of funds collected and the amount and purpose for which any funds have been expended.

In addition, on the first anniversary of the execution of the FSHC amended agreement dated January 29, 2020, and every anniversary thereafter through the end of the agreement, the City agrees to provide annual reporting of the status of all affordable housing activity within the municipality through posting on the municipal website with a copy of such posting provided to FSHC, using forms previously developed for this purpose by COAH or any other forms endorsed by the Special Master and FSHC.

2019 Housing Trust Fund Monitoring (Pending)

2019 Housing Activity Monitoring (Pending)

The Fair Housing Act includes two provisions regarding action to be taken by the City during the ten-year period of protection acknowledged by the Settlement Agreement. The City agrees to comply with those provisions as follows:

a.    For the midpoint realistic opportunity review due on July 1, 2020, as required pursuant to N.J.S.A. 52:27D-313, the City will post on its municipal website, with a copy provided to FSHC, a status report as to its implementation of its Plan and an analysis of whether any unbuilt sites or unfulfilled mechanisms continue to present a realistic opportunity. Such posting shall invite any interested party to submit comments to the municipality, with a copy to FSHC, regarding whether any sites no longer present a realistic opportunity and should be replaced. Any interested party may by motion request a hearing before the court regarding these issues.

b.        For the review of very-low income housing requirements required by N.J.S.A 52:27D-329.1 within 30 days of the third anniversary of the FSHC agreement dated January 29, 2020, and every third year thereafter, the City will post on its municipal website, with a copy provided to FSHC, a status report as to its satisfaction of its very-low income requirements, including the family very-low income requirements. Such posting shall invite any interested party to submit comments to the municipality and FSHC on the issue of whether the municipality has complied with its very low income housing obligation under the terms of the settlement with FSHC.

July 1, 2020 Midpoint Review (Pending)