Hopewell Township to Commence Legal Action Against State for Unpaid Funds

Hopewell Township passed a resolution at last night’s committee meeting authorizing the Township attorney to commence litigation against the state to retrieve $639,644.75 worth of unpaid funds due to the Township from the conditions of the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009.

In 2008, the Statewide Non-Residential Development Fee Act imposed a 2.5% statewide affordable housing development fee on all non-residential new construction within the state and, in this specific case, the project in Hopewell Township was the one constructed by Capital Health Systems (CHS). CHS paid the Township a non-residential development fee in the amount of $639,644.75.

The following year, the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act entitled developers to a refund of non-residential development fees that had been previously paid to the Township. The Stimulus Act further provided that, if a municipality had to refund these fees, then the municipality would be reimbursed for those funds from the New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund, for which there was 15 million dollars allotted.

Hopewell Township reimbursed the $639,644.75 to CHS but has not received a reimbursement from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund or COAH (Council on Affordable Housing). In March of 2010, the Township received a statement from COAH saying that they were still determining whether there was any money available to pay the reimbursement.

Discussions at the Committee meeting last night involved the estimated attorneys fees for such a lawsuit and the likelihood of success in the case. Steve Goodell, Township Attorney estimated the council fees to be $20,000.

“I think it is a good investment,” said Hopewell Township Mayor Harvey Lester. “I don’t want taxpayers to be out the $600K+ without trying to get the money back. This is the first step in being successful and, without it, there is no chance of succeeding.”

When committee member Kevin Kuchinski inquired the number of cases of this type that have been successful, Goodell informed the committee that there have been no other cases of this type. And if the Township could not get the money back, they would be requesting a reduction in affordable housing obligation numbers.

The resolution passed unanimously.

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