Court Decision Paves Way for Dedicated Senior Housing in Fair Lawn
A judge Tuesday ruled in favor of an amendment to the borough's affordable housing plan, clearing the path for an affordable unit swap between two developers that would create senior housing in Fair Lawn.
A state superior court judge Tuesday approved an affordable housing unit transfer agreement between two developers that paves the way for the creation of dedicated senior housing in Fair Lawn.
Following about 45 minutes of court room testimony regarding the affordable housing unit swap, Judge Brian Martinotti concurred with court-appointed special master Stuart Koenig and ruled that the borough's proposed amendment to its Affordable Housing Plan met the necessary requirements set forth by the Fair Housing Act and the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing. Martinotti commended both the borough and the developers for working together for the benefit of the community.
Under the amended plan, the Fair Lawn Promenade-- currently being constructed along Route 208 in the industrial park -- frees itself from the obligation of building 38 affordable housing units by paying $1.5 million into the borough's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
That money will then be disbursed as an eligible expense from the Trust Fund and put toward the $1.7 million purchase of the 3.9-acre Hadco/KEM site, which would be leased to Fair Lawn Senior Housing, a partnership of multiple non-profit entities. The non-profit developers will kick in an additional $200,000 on top of the $1.5 million provided in lieu of the Promenade's affordable units to purchase the KEM site with the guarantee to develop it into a 64-unit 100 percent affordable age-restricted development.
Once the non-profit developers secure the title to the KEM site, located at 18-35 River Road, they can begin to assemble funding to actually build the senior housing development, which now becomes the major stumbling block.
Tom Toronto, president of the Bergen County United Way -- one of the non-profit developers involved -- said they're hoping to fund the site's construction through state-allocated tax credits and will be submitting a tax credit financing application by the approaching deadline.
If the tax credit application is approved and construction funding is secured -- something Toronto said he is very confident will occur -- the developers expect to break ground on the project by next June.
Before that happens, however, Toronto said the developers will again have to go before the Planning Board in Fair Lawn for approval of slight modifications to their original plan, which called for 50 market rate units and 14 low-and-moderate income affordable housing units.
"Essentially we’re going to follow through on the original footprint that was established when the original application for market rate housing was approved," he said. "We're going to modify it, obviously, because we're not going to be building two or three bedroom units, but rather more one bedroom units, and there will be some architectural changes that will take place, but nothing so significant that it would require a completely new application."
In the event the funding for the project falls through, however, the borough must decide what it will do with the property.
Borough attorney Ron Mondello said Fair Lawn's options would include abandoning the project altogether, bonding and undertaking municipal development of the project or finding another developer to take on the project.
If all goes as planned, the affordable housing unit swap will increase the number of affordable units planned for the borough's three incoming developments from 92 units (40 at Landmark, 38 at Fair Lawn Promenade and 14 at Hadco/KEM) to 97 units (33 at Landmark and 64 at Hadco/KEM).