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Clinton Hoffman on affordable housing

Wall's obligation, the ever-changing state rules and the potential of a bloated school system

Clinton Hoffman on affordable housing

Committeeman Clint Hoffman.

 (Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in an occasional series that lets public officials speak, unedited, about issues that concern Wall. Today, its Committeeman Clint Hoffman, recorded by Wall Patch at a January Township Committee meeting answering questions about affordable housing.)

On the number of Affordable Homes that Wall must build under state affordable housing mandates: “Right now, that is completely undetermined. Based on the rules that the Appellate court threw out earlier this year – based on those rules, our number was 667 units.”

On the original version of an affordable housing bill, since changed and rejected by Gov. Christie: “If 7.5 percent of your housing stock could be considered affordable, then you were good. You didn’t have to build anything. So that original version had that. Wall Township would meet that, meaning we wouldn’t have to build anything.’’

On the bill Christie rejected last month: “But, along the way, what ended up at the governor’s desk had a 10 percent number attached to it, instead of 7.5 percent. And at 10 percent, the total number is back up to the 500-600 range.”

On the courts’ involvement in affordable housing: “While the Legislature is doing what they think they need to do and the governor is doing what he thinks he needs to do, the state supreme court is over here doing their own thing. They just invalidated the Appellate Court decision from the end of last year which abolishes COAH (the state Coalition on Affordable Housing) and gives them a deadline to set new rules – they kind of now set that aside.”

On where that leaves Wall Township: “So we have absolutely no idea what it is we have to do. What I can say is that the best case we’ve ever heard is zero and the worst case we’ve heard is 667, of which 500 would actually have to be constructed.”

On Wall’s history with the state’s affordable housing rules: “Wall Township has always gone through the court system. We always had a judge who was looking at Wall Township to make sure we were complying with the first and second-round rules (handed down from the state) and subsequently with the third-round rules.

 “We had a judge who said, ‘You know what? There’s no rules right now. You guys don’t have to do anything. Take a break.’ I’m paraphrasing, of course. The court assigned a new judge, back in September. When the new judge took over, the new judge said ‘You know what, Wall Township? I don’t care what the old judge said. There are rules in place. They haven’t been invalidated yet. Go start building your 667 units. A week later the Appellate Court said, ‘We invalidate COAH. We throw out these Round Three rules, and so he did at that point in time say, ‘Okay, I’m giving you a break. There clearly are no rules.’

"We have to meet with him again in April. Now that the legislature couldn’t figure anything out, the governor’s not, you  know, accepting anything that’s been put forward, the state Supreme Court just invalidated the Appellate rules, when we go to meet with him in April he might just say, “The only thing we’ve got to work by are still the old rules, so get going on those.’

“We might be back to doing that, which I think makes no sense. And I’m hoping that that is a scenario that does not come true.”

On the types of housing Wall may have to build: “A chunk of those would have been acceptable as senior citizen housing, which wouldn’t burden the schools -- about 125, I think. So the balance, about 350 units would have a potential impact on the school system.”

On where those units would go: “Just so you know, the plan that we had that had been approved, that had been accepted, under the old rules that have been invalidated, almost 95 percent of those 350 units would have been in the Central School district. They would have almost all been Central School children. There could be intermediate and high school, but yeah, Central School’s district.”

On the impact of that: “Technically, yeah, we’d get more trailers or we’d have to do some radical redistricting.” 

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