The Court decisions, legislation and regulations discussed above are the unfortunate reality that the Borough has to live with. Absent a Constitutional Amendment or other dramatic legislative change, the Borough is forced to operate within the confines of the Mt. Laurel Doctrine as it has been interpreted by the Courts and implemented by the Legislature. The Borough’s affordable housing obligations are not going to just go away. This is why it is critically important for Borough officials, with productive input from residents, to pro-actively seek to:
1) foster responsible residential development in the community;
2) protect the Borough from builder’s remedy lawsuits and other penalties; and
3) support the retention and growth of the commercial sector where possible.
As the Mayor and Council have previously stated, the Borough is evaluating all available options to preserve the character of Montvale. This includes seeking a vacant land adjustment due to a lack of vacant and developable land in the Borough. Borough officials have been meeting with various property owners, especially those with vacant or underutilized buildings, concerning potential development proposals to find solutions that will responsibly guide future development in town.
The Borough is also investigating a variety of mechanisms to create affordable units that will help satisfy the Borough’s constitutional obligation to provide for affordable housing, while responsibly limiting the total number of new residential units that are required. Building or approving assisted living facilities and group homes, extending existing deed restrictions, and sponsoring/subsidizing 100% affordable developments are but a few of the mechanisms available to the Borough. All of these options are on the table and are being actively pursued to the extent that they are in the best interests of Montvale.
Montvale, like the majority of suburban New Jersey municipalities, is confronted with the practical reality of having to find appropriate locations and plan for affordable housing. The courts have ruled that it is Montvale’s responsibility to provide a realistic opportunity for the construction of housing for low- and moderate-income households. With this obligation comes the requirement to permit residential development beyond what we may have ideally envisioned for our community. It is the goal of the Mayor and Council, with active public input and cooperation, to satisfy the Borough’s obligations in a way that will ultimately enhance and improve our community.