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Brick Developer: No Section 8 Planned for Apartment Complex, Despite Approval

Activist housing group had threatened to sue town, developer over restriction

Brick Boulevard, near where a 120 unit housing complex is proposed. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Brick Boulevard, near where a 120 unit housing complex is proposed. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The attorney for the developer of a planned 120 unit rental apartment complex on Brick Boulevard said it is not his client’s intention to rent units to affordable housing or Section 8 tenants, but was forced to seek permission to do so after a housing advocacy group threatened to sue over a deed restriction imposed by the township’s Board of Adjustment.

The board voted unanimously on Wednesday night to approve the elimination of a deed restriction that disallowed affordable housing and Section 8 tenants from living in the complex proposed for 135 Brick Boulevard, but only voted to do so after representatives from the Fair Share Housing Center, of Cherry Hill, threatened to sue over the restriction.

The Fair Share Housing Center is the same group that has successfully sued to establish the state’s so-called Mount Laurel doctrine.

The board’s attorney, Ronald D. Cucchiaro, said restricting Section 8 or affordable housing tenants, even if the developer of an apartment complex does not intend to market to that demographic, is illegal and would subject the township to a lawsuit it would likely lose.

“You can’t tell someone, ‘you can’t live here based on how much money you’re making,’” said Cucchiaro. “The only way to fix the problem is to excise, or take out, that condition from the resolution. It won’t change the application, it will be built the same way. It just doesn’t limit the type of person who can live there.”

But in a tense, four hour-long meeting, many residents expressed concern over who would move into the complex, saying even though the developer’s attorney, John Jackson, assured members of the board that his client intended to build an upscale living space, an economic downturn and a glut of housing being built in Brick could lead to units going unfilled and the owner looking to Section 8 for a quick fix.

One board member, Dennis Liberatore, echoed the residents’ concerns.

“Not only are your 120 units coming into the market, but we have 400 units coming in behind the Shop Rite,” Liberatore said, referring to the Nobility Crest complex that is being built off Chambers Bridge Road. If there truly is a housing glut, “sooner or later, you have to put people in there, even less than market value, because the money’s good, and the check never bounces because it’s the federal government,” he said.

“I, for one, am extremely concerned that there is no protection for those of us that live in that vicinity from having him going to public housing if he, in fact, has to,” Liberatore added.

Section 8 housing refers to a federal program where people who meet certain income requirements are given vouchers to rent apartments or houses. An apartment building owner, Cucchiaro said, cannot restrict someone from paying for their apartment with such funding, though Jackson said rents in the proposed complex will be sufficiently high enough that Section 8 tenants most likely would not seek it out.

A one-bedroom apartment, he said, would rent for approximately $1,400 per month.

“Individuals apply for the housing assistance, they get approved for the housing assistance and they have to seek a facility that they can afford,” said Tara Paxton, the township’s assistant planner. “Section 8 is not designated in a building or as a unit.”

“New, high-end apartments will actually rise the tide for the rest of the market,” added Jackson.

“We did not ask for this,” he reiterated, saying the complex’s developer, who mainly owns hotels, agreed to the restriction and was only before the board due to the lawsuit that was threatened.

The developer will also pay approximately $440,000 to avoid a state-mandated 20 percent affordable housing set-aside, with the money going to a township trust fund. Therefore, Jackson said, there will be no affordable housing units in the complex.

Board Chairman Harvey Langer said the board, in an effort to ensure the complex would be high-end, required hardwood floors, granite countertops, a greater than 5,000 square foot club house and 3,000 square foot pool.

“We don’t want this become a ghetto,” said an exasperated Langer, as the meeting grew more tense and one woman was thrown out of the proceedings. “I’ve lived here 40 years! Do you think I want that?”

But some residents looked toward the future, voicing concerns that other complexes in Brick have deteriorated and are now problematic with regard to overcrowding and crime issues.

“My question to you is, how do we enforce the rules when we haven’t enforced them in other places?” asked Sharon Cantillo, who said she lives close to the proposed complex. “We look at the apartments we already have, and we’re scared.”

“The reality is, we’re not changing anything,” said Jackson.

The owner will hire an on-site management company to oversee the complex and tenants will be screened financially and undergo a background check before moving in.

The complex was originally proposed as a senior citizen development, but had its age restriction removed under a 2009 state law that allowed unbuilt or unsold senior developments to be converted to general real estate.

“I think the most important thing, and the thing we must focus on, is that the deed restriction we put in back in 2013 is unlawful,” said Liberatore, before the final vote. “It is our counsel’s advice that if we did deny this application, we would go to court and we would lose.”

The complex still must receive certain permits and building department approvals before construction begins. Jackson did not have a specific timeframe as to when that would be.
Stephen May 22, 2014 at 07:01 PM
Finally we agree on something! Peace man.
Randi Lee White May 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM
Brick "CITY". As a young couple, we recently bought a house here because of the cute little beach communities and fondness of our neighborhood. However, it's amazing the changes that have taken place over the past five years. I don't see us staying long term. STOP BUILDING!!!! Enough food chains already, and now apartment housing in two different locations. Who cares if it's section 8 or not, it's just too damn crowded already. Enough already, seriously. I have several friends who feel the same way. But, just my opinion.
J.JONES May 23, 2014 at 11:30 PM
Here's a interesting story talking to a friend who use to live a area called the projects in Jersey City years ago it was originally housed families who worked hard and raised good families than in a short time they changed to section 8 low income housing .Well crime drugs and area just went bad and so do you think Brick in on this same path ??? Past history probably will repeat !!
Resident May 24, 2014 at 07:37 AM
Listen, anyone that thinks this is bad for Brick is not thinking like a developer that will be pocketing the money and living elsewhere.......
Robert Talty May 27, 2014 at 06:35 AM
More police officers will be needed now, I hope there thinking long term, if it does become section 8 more officers will be needed. More on each shift too! I hope these projects work out for everyone involved including those who live near these projects!

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