Fox Team Achieves Major Victory In New Jersey Affordable Housing Trial

July 25, 2016 – Press Releases

Fox Rothschild LLP Partners Henry L. Kent Smith and Irina B. Elgart successfully represented Richardson Fresh Ponds and Princeton Orchards Associates (RFP/POA), the owners of the Princeton Orchard Apartments, in a precedential affordable housing dispute before the Superior Court Law Division.

The declaratory judgment action, In the Matter of the Application of the Township of South Brunswick for a Judgment of Compliance and Repose, was the first declaratory judgment action trial in New Jersey following the Supreme Court’s Mt. Laurel IV decision in March 2015.

Fox’s successful challenge to the Township’s evidence, and efforts to establish a constitutionally permissible methodology, provides a template for all trial courts in New Jersey to follow as to how to calculate the affordable housing need for the 2015 – 2025 housing cycle.

For years, Fox had been negotiating on behalf of RFP/POA with South Brunswick Township in seeking to obtain  rezoning that would allow the expansion of The Princeton Orchards Apartments to an adjacent vacant 25 acre parcel, without success.  

Recently, the team successfully intervened in the Township’s declaratory judgment action to ensure that the Township proposed a constitutionally compliant affordable housing plan. Several other parties, including Fair Share Housing Center and regional developers, also intervened to support the constitutional challenge.

Despite multiple opportunities, the Township failed to present a viable affordable housing compliance plan and the intervenors, led by the Fox team, persuaded the court to revoke the Township’s immunity from builders remedy suits in accordance with Mt. Laurel IV.  Following an eight-day trial the Fox team succeeded in establishing the appropriate methodology to  calculate affordable housing need for the Township of South Brunswick, which the Court determined to be 1553 units for the 2015-2025 housing cycle – an amount significantly higher than the Township’s proposal.

Kent-Smith concentrates his practice in real estate including the land use permitting and redevelopment process and eminent domain/condemnation matters. He has also negotiated commercial development agreements and acquisitions and leasing for both landlords and tenants. Henry has appeared before more than 150 municipalities and more than 200 land use boards in every county in New Jersey.

Elgart represents clients in all aspects of complex commercial litigation and corporate matters, including business disputes, products liability, trade secrets, defense of consumer fraud claims and estate matters.