Old Orchard Village, Inc. Homeowners Association. lost its battle to prevent developer 900 Herrontown Princeton LP from building 64-apartment affordable housing on the corner of Mount Lucas Road and Herontown Road.LEA KAHN / STAFF

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Old Orchard Village, Inc. Homeowners Association. lost its battle to prevent developer 900 Herrontown Princeton LP from building 64-apartment affordable housing on the corner of Mount Lucas Road and Herontown Road.LEA KAHN / STAFF

Old Orchard Village, Inc. Homeowners Association. lost its battle to prevent developer 900 Herrontown Princeton LP from building 64-apartment affordable housing on the corner of Mount Lucas Road and Herrontown Road.

The New Jersey Supreme Court Appeals Division has upheld a rejection by a Mercer County Supreme Court judge of a homeowners association’s lawsuit that was filed against Princeton County in 2019.

The decision of the Appellate Division, issued in November 2021, clears the way for the construction of affordable housing. The planned plot of three hectares near the buildings of the Old Orchard. The site is the site of a former SAVE animal shelter.

The Homeowners Association, which manages the development of Old Orchard Village on Old Orchard Road, has sued Princeton Municipality over the issue of the resonance of a three-hectare site adjacent to existing buildings.

Princeton did not act “arbitrarily, capriciously or unreasonably” in approving the decision to change the zoning of the site to allow the construction of affordable housing, according to a ruling by a panel of three judges of the Appeals Division.

In its lawsuit in 2019 filed against the city, the homeowners ’association challenged the Princeton Council’s approval of a decision to redevelop the site to allow affordable housing. The land has been converted from S-2, which allows commercial use, to the newly created AH-3 affordable housing area.

The lawsuit alleges that a decision was made to “define the area of ​​a specific plot of land” to allow the development of affordable housing based on a plan that did not meet the Princeton community master plan or revise the 2017 master plan. report.

The lawsuit says the Princeton Municipal Code and master plan have consistently noted the importance of maintaining the quality of life of residential neighborhoods, but the new ordinance will not preserve the quality of life for the Old Orchard Village unit due to high building density next door.

Developer 900 Herrontown Princeton LP has received permission from the Princeton Planning Council to build 64 affordable apartments in several four-story homes. All apartments would be affordable for low- and middle-income families.

Rejecting the homeowners’ association’s claim that the ruling was against the master plan, Mercer County Supreme Court Justice wrote that providing affordable housing was a use that was explicitly provided for in the master plan. This is in line with the Master Plan.

Remaining in force the decision of the lower court, the judges of the Appellate Division wrote that they “agree that the decision contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the Master Plan and essentially corresponds to it.”

In the Master Plan, Princeton describes itself as a community that offers a wide range of housing for residents of all socio-economic groups, and that it seeks to develop affordable housing, the judges wrote.

And, supporting the ruling of the Mercer County Supreme Court Judge that the zoning ruling is not a point zoning, the Court of Appeals wrote that the New Jersey Supreme Court defined point zoning as “the use of zoning power for private interests rather than collective interests. society ”.

Adoption of a resolution proposed by a private party and benefited by it is not an inadmissible zoning of seats if it was taken for the common good as part of a comprehensive plan, the judges wrote.

The Princeton Council made the decision not to benefit the private party, but to give the city the opportunity to create a significant number of safe and attractive affordable housing in the appropriate place, the judges wrote.

“The ordinance allows Princeton to achieve its goal set out in the Land Use Element of its master plan,” to maintain and increase the variety of housing options available in Princeton. ” This is an inadmissible point zoning, ”the judges wrote.

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