JUDGE RULES CRANFORD COMPLIANT WITH COAH

By DELL SIMEONE
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

CRANFORD – State Superior Court Judge Lisa M. Chrystal has deemed Cranford Township’s Master Plan compliant with the New Jersey State Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) requirements. The township’s planning board amended the Master Plan on April 3.

In a decision handed down on Monday in Superior Court in Elizabeth, the judge ruled that the township complied with a December 11, 2011 order which Judge Chrystal imposed after the township lost a builder’s remedy lawsuit brought by Cranford Development Associates (CDA).

“The decision will result in an order of repose which will protect Cranford from any challenges relating to Fair Share Housing until December of 2018,” said former Township Attorney Philip Morin, who represented the township at the compliance hearing. Mr. Morin also said that Judge Chrystal asked attorney Stephen Eisdorfer of Hill Wallack LLP of Princeton, which represents the CDA, to prepare an order of final judgment in the case.

Mr. Morin also said the township can now go forward to appeal Judge Chrystal’s previous decision, which ruled in favor of the CDA building350 apartments at 215/235Birchwood Avenue, 54 of which would be affordable housing units.  The township is opposed to the project because of flooding and contamination concerns.

Cranford has now met its first and second round of affordable housing obligations to the state. If Cranford has any third round obligations, Mr. Morin said they cannot be met by new development since the township has no space to develop, but could be met by rehabilitation of existing properties. As a result of this compliance, 24 affordable units will be allocated at the Lehigh Associates project, comprised of 167 units to be built at 555 South Avenue.