History of the Emerson Redevelopment - Part IX - (July 2017 through December 2017)

This is the ninth in a series of historical background facts on the history of Redevelopment in Emerson.


By a vote of 5-1, the Council adopted Resolution 200-17 on July 18, 2017, which authorized the execution of a Second Amendment to the Redevelopment Agreement. The Amendment provided further clarification on the Borough’s affordable housing obligation for the Redevelopment Zone. It specifically set forth that 15% of the affordable housing units must be on site and 5% could be on site, off site or accounted for by a payment in lieu of construction. The original Redevelopment Agreement provided that 20% of the units be affordable but did not specify that 15% had to be placed on site. The Special Master was very much in favor of having 15% of the affordable units on site, as was the Fair Share Housing Center. (See link to Resolution 200-17 passed on July 18, 2017 and Second Amendment to the Redevelopment Agreement)


The construction work on Kinderkamack Road Improvement Project was nearing completion in late September 2017. At the Mayor and Council meeting of October 3, 2017, Borough Engineer Gary Ascolese reported on the status of the Project, as well as ongoing efforts to monitor the new traffic patterns to insure the most efficient operation of the redesign. (See link to Borough Engineer Gary Ascolese’s October 3, 2017 Report)

In November 2017, the Borough reached a settlement of its affordable housing litigation. Resolution No. 274-17, passed on November 21, 2017, which authorized a settlement agreement by and among the Borough of Emerson and Fair Share Housing Center to resolve the Affordable Housing issues raised in the Borough’s Declaratory Judgment Action was moved by Council President Knoller, seconded by Councilman Falotico and carried by a roll call vote of 4-1. With that Agreement, which has since been approved in a court mandated “fairness hearing”, the Borough’s Realistic Development Potential was set at fifty-three (53) units. Of that obligation, which was reached after application of a Vacant Land Analysis which recognized the lack of buildable sites within the Borough, twenty-four (24) have already been constructed/designated, with the remaining twenty-nine (29) to be constructed through Redevelopment of Block 419. Provided that the Borough did what was necessary to insure construction of the Redevelopment at Block 419, the Borough would be granted immunity from a builder’s remedy suit for the remainder of the Third Round, through 2025. (see link to November 30, 2017 Press Release, Resolution No. 274-17 and executed Affordable Housing Settlement Agreement)


The Borough was also required to provide some mechanism for meeting its unmet need of 181 units. The Special Master, and intervener, Fair Share Housing Center, both agreed that the Borough could meet that obligation by the establishment of two (2) overlay zones to encourage multi-family development. Overlay zoning is a regulatory tool that creates a special zoning district, placed over an existing zone, which identifies special provisions in addition to those in the underlying zone.


On December 5, 2017, the Council, by a vote of 4-1, adopted Ordinance 1548-17, which amended the Borough’s Zoning Ordinance to incorporate two (2) of the zoning recommendations set forth in the 2017 Re-examination of the Borough’s Master Plan, which had been unanimously approved by the Land Use Board.. That Ordinance established two (2) overlay zones, MFRAH North in the IM (Industrial and Manufacturing) Zone at Chestnut Avenue and Bland Streets, those being Block 214, Lots 6, 7, 8.01, 8.02 and 9, Block 213, Lots 1-6, and Block 405, Lots 1, 2, 3.01, 3.02 and 4 -14, a total of 28 lots, and the MFRAH South covering properties previously in the Redevelopment Zone in the central business district, those being Block 616, Lots 1, 2, 16,17 and19-25 and Block 617.01, Lots 2.01, 2.01 and 8, a total of 13 lots. (See Ordinance 15480-17 adopted December 5, 2017 and Map of Overlay Zones)


The establishment of these two (2) overlay zones allows, but do not require, the construction of multi-family housing where such housing was not allowed under the underlying zone. These overlay zones were established in anticipation of approval by the court of the settlement of the Borough’s affordable housing litigation to address our unmet need. That settlement will be discussed in my next offering, covering the developments from January 1, 2018 to date.


The 2017 Council was comprised of two (2) Republicans and four (4) Democrats, with a Democratic mayor. Thus, bi-partisan efforts continued to improve a deteriorated downtown business district.


As usual, please feel free to reach out with any questions to mayor@emersonnj.org.

Below is a link to Resolution 200-17 passed on July 18, 2017 and Second Amendment to the Redevelopment Agreement, Borough Engineer Gary Ascolese’s October 3, 2017 Report, November 30, 2017 Press Release, Resolution No. 274-17 passed November 21, 2017, executed Affordable Housing Settlement Agreement, Ordinance 1548-17 adopted December 5, 2017 and Map of Overlay Zones.