A team of lawyers and experts are continuing Brick’s fight to avoid what would amount to an obligation to provide more than 2,500 units of low-income housing.
The Fair Share Housing Center, a housing advocacy group that is best known for its role in creating the so-called Mount Laurel doctrine, claims Brick has an obligation and enough room to provide 2,614 units, according to Township Attorney Kevin Starkey. The units, if such an obligation were to be codified, would likely come in the form of apartments, with the township being required to allow developers to construct the units under court mandate.
Brick officials have said the numbers put forth by the Fair Share Housing Center are wrong, and the township already provides enough affordable housing units, making its obligation zero. In February, Superior Court Judge Mark Troncone ruled that Ocean County municipalities, including Brick, would have an obligation to plan for affordable housing that not only was required under past and present need, but for a 15 year “gap period” under which the state’s Council on Affordable Housing was unable to reach a decision on housing obligations.
Along with the ruling, Troncone appointed a special master to determine housing obligations for each town. Starkey said the special master determined Brick’s obligation to be 536 units – less than the 2,614 favored by the advocacy group, but significantly more than the township believes is necessary.
In July, the Appellate Division of Superior Court sided with hundreds of municipalities across the state, remanding the case back to Troncone along with a ruling that there is no requirement built into the state’s affordable housing case law that would require housing to retroactively be constructed for the gap period.
In September, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
This week, the Brick Township council voted in favor of providing an extra $1,000 toward a fund that jointly defending towns in the case. The fund, to which Brick previously contributed $2,000, is paying for expert testimony and statistics from Nassau Capital Advisors in the case.