By: Joshua Burd (Real Estate NJ)
When it comes to zoning for new affordable housing, Jeff Surenian says he has spent the past several years fighting to preserve each municipality’s right to choose.
But at some point, he said, they have to actually choose.
“Everyone understands that there is a body of law. And it’s really clear: You do it, or it’s going to be done for you,” said Surenian, an attorney who has represented dozens of New Jersey towns in affordable housing cases. “So everyone is just struggling with what is the best choice for each community.”
It’s among the many uncertainties that remain in one of the state’s longest-running policy battles. More than 100 municipalities have yet to reach settlements on their zoning for new affordable housing, despite a now-three-year-old order to do so by the state Supreme Court.
And even with the ruling in a high-profile trial in Mercer County — which many see as a guidepost for other cases — stakeholders expect many towns to continue the fight with advocates and developers over their obligations to low- and moderate-income residents.