Ocean City hosting meeting on affordable housing

Fairness In Taxes group wants citizens to protest city’s plans

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City is hosting a public meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12 at Ocean City Tabernacle, 550 Wesley Ave., to discuss the city’s affordable housing obligation and plans. 

Fairness In Taxes, a local citizens group, is urging people to come out for the meeting to protest the city’s plans.

 “The Supreme Court has ordered all municipalities in New Jersey to provide affordable housing for families, individuals and the elderly, and this requirement will represent a significant challenge in the coming years,” Mayor Jay Gillian said in a Jan. 4 statement which invites the public to attend the meeting and share feedback on the initiative.

For its part, Fairness In Taxes placed an ad in this week’s Ocean City Sentinel arguing against the plan and urging citizens to protest. “As a result of the Mayor’s action, Ocean City taxpayers will have to bail out the mismanaged Housing Authority with over 17.5 million dollars to construct new public housing units,” part of the ad reads. “Say NO! to the multi-million dollar taxpayer funded bail out of the Ocean City Housing Authority disguised

as an Affordable Housing Plan.” 

 Council approved multiple ordinances Dec. 13 creating an affordable housing plan that complies with a settlement establishing the city’s affordable housing requirements until 2025. 

In July the city reached a settlement with the nonprofit Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC), an advocacy organization that works to end discriminatory zoning patterns by ensuring towns provide a fair share of affordable housing. 

The drive for municipalities to provide housing for low income residents began in 1975 with the landmark New Jersey Supreme Court case Southern Burlington County N.A.A.C.P. v Mount Laurel Township, where plaintiffs challenged Mount Laurel’s zoning ordinance.

In 1985 the New Jersey Legislature passed the Fair Housing Act, which sets the municipal obligations to offer affordable housing. From this legislation came the Council On Affordable Housing (COAH), which regulates affordable housing obligations or number of units in each municipality.

Ocean City’s requirements include building 107 affordable housing units through 2025, including 13 affordable housing units in the next two years.

Council in December approved a package of ordinances that would create an affordable housing plan. 

One ordinance has real estate developers increase their contribution to the costs of affordable housing construction. The ordinance raises development fees from 1 percent to 1.5 percent on residential new construction. Funds collected would go to a trust fund for affordable housing. 

Council also approved an ordinance amending the city’s zoning and land development ordinance listing city-sponsored affordable housing as “municipal uses.” 

Another ordinance council approved addresses requirements of the Fair Share Housing Act and details the city’s compliance with its affordable housing obligations. 

An ordinance that would set aside a minimum of affordable housing units to meet the city’s affordable housing obligation was tabled to allow the planning board to incorporate it into the city’s master plan. 

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