The Hopewell Borough Council, at a closed executive session meeting tonight, discussed its affordable housing obligation and litigation. Afterward, during the Council meeting, Hopewell Borough mayor, Paul Anzano, announced that the Borough will be filing a motion with court to remove itself from participating in the court affordable housing and constitutional obligation process due to financial concerns.
At the July Council meeting, immediately before the declaratory judgment filing deadline, the Council agreed to file the declaratory judgment to join the affordable housing litigation based on recommendations from their legal council as well as the Borough planner. For more, see Making Hopewell More Affordable: Boro Council Takes Next Step.
“We are strongly in favor of a diversified housing stock and ensuring that people of various means have an opportunity to live in this community, but the tax payers shouldn’t be burdened by this process,” said Mayor Anzano.
“When we originally signed on for this, there was a lot of disagreement and uncertainty about potential risks from builders’ remedy lawsuit,” said Councilman David Mackie. “But, with so many ongoing developments in the courts, it results in substantial legal costs. The framework that the court will use to determine the obligation has not been resolved, there are still expert reports coming out, and the Borough cannot bear the professional costs of this while things are being sorted out. The money could be spent to pursue affordable housing goals but is being spent on professional fees so, we’re getting off that train because it is beyond our means. And, ironically, because of these uncertainties, it has interfered with our ability to finalize the affordable housing plan because the planner needs to keep revising things for the court. We are aggressively pursuing our affordable housing plan but we’re going to separate ourselves from legal process.”
The Borough Council also has also issued a request of the Borough Planning Board that they “act expeditiously” to assess the Borough’s affordable housing status and obligation fulfillment.