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In re Fort Monmouth Reuse and Redevelopment Plan

October 27, 2010


On appeal from a Final Decision of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Planning Authority and Council on Affordable Housing. Kevin D. Walsh, attorney for appellant Fair Share Housing Center.

Per curiam.


Submitted May 11, 2010

Before Judges Skillman, Fuentes and Gilroy.

Appellant Fair Share Housing Center appeals from the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Planning Authority's (the Authority) September 3, 2008 resolution that adopted the Fort Monmouth Reuse and Redevelopment Plan (the plan), pursuant to the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Planning Authority Act (FMERPA), N.J.S.A. 52:27I-1 to -17. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Fort Monmouth is a 1,127-acre United States Army base that occupies parts of three municipalities in Monmouth County: the Borough of Tinton Falls, the Borough of Eatontown, and the Borough of Oceanport. The base is scheduled to close on September 15, 2011. Because of concerns of possible adverse effects from the base closure upon the three host communities, Monmouth County, and the State as a whole, the Legislature enacted FMERPA in 2006, "to plan for the comprehensive conversion and revitalization of Fort Monmouth that will enhance the creation of employment and other business opportunities for the benefit of the host communities and the entire State." N.J.S.A. 52:27I-2.

To achieve that goal, the Legislature created the Authority. N.J.S.A. 52:27I-4. The purpose of the Authority is:

[T]o develop a comprehensive conversion and revitalization plan for the territory encompassed by Fort Monmouth in a manner that will promote, develop, encourage, and maintain employment, commerce, economic development, and the public welfare; conserve the natural resources of the State; and advance the general prosperity and economic welfare of the people in the affected communities and the entire State by cooperating and acting in conjunction with other organizations, public and private, to promote and advance the economic use of the facilities located at Fort Monmouth.

[N.J.S.A. 52:27I-5.]

The plan is to "comprise a report or statement and land use and development proposals, including plans for the development, redevelopment or rehabilitation of the project area with maps, diagrams and texts . . . ." N.J.S.A. 52:27I-14a. The plan is to include:

(1) A statement of objectives, principles, assumptions, policies and standards upon which the constituent proposals for the physical, economic and social development of the project area are based;

(2) The relationship of the plan to Statewide, county and municipal objectives as to appropriate land uses, density of population, and traffic and public transportation, public utilities, recreational and community facilities and other public improvements;

(3) Proposed land uses in the project area, taking into account and stating the relationship thereof to the statement provided for in paragraph (1) of this subsection, and other plan elements as the authority deems appropriate, including, but not necessarily limited to, topography, soil conditions, water supply, drainage, flood plain areas, marshes, and woodlands; showing the existing and proposed location, extent and intensity of development of land to be used in the future for varying types of residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational, educational and other public and private purposes or combination of purposes; and including a statement of the standards of population density and development intensity recommended for the project area. . . . and (4) Any significant relationship of the plan to (a) the master plans of constituent municipalities, (b) the master plan of the county in which the municipalities are located, and (c) the State Development and Redevelopment Plan adopted pursuant to the "State Planning Act," P.L.1985, c.398 (C. 52:18A-196 et al.). [N.J.S.A. 52:27I-14a.]

Lastly, once adopted, "[t]he plan shall supersede applicable provisions of the development regulations of the constituent municipalities or constitute an overlay district within the project area." N.J.S.A. 52:27I-14b.*fn1

On July 17, 2008, recent amendments to the Fair Housing Act (FHA), N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301 to -329.19 became effective. L. 2008, c. 46. They provided in part that the Authority "shall identify and coordinate regional affordable housing opportunities in cooperation with municipalities in areas with convenient access to infrastructure, employment opportunities, and public transportation." L. 2008, c. 46, § 18 (codified as amended at N.J.S.A. 52:27D-329.9(c)(2)). "Coordination of affordable housing opportunities may include methods to regionally provide housing in line with regional concerns, such as transit needs or opportunities, environmental concerns, or such other factors as the council may permit . . . ." Ibid.

The Authority made the plan available to members of the public for review and comment prior to its final adoption. On May 19, 2008, the Authority held a public meeting in Tinton Falls concerning its obligation to provide affordable housing. Additional public meetings were held in Tinton Falls, Eatontown, and Oceanport. These meetings included Community Planning Board ...

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