AUCC Lawsuit Update: Dismissed

In October 2020, the Al Ummah Community Center (also known as AUCC) commenced a lawsuit against the Township, the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Building Department officials, and others.

This week, Judge Kevin McNulty dismissed the amended complaint (without prejudice) largely for the reasons I outlined back in October 2020.
Teaneck was represented by Thomas B. Hanrahan of Hanrahan Pack, LLC.

11/15/2022 127 OPINION. Signed by Judge Kevin McNulty on 11/15/2022. (sm) (Entered: 11/15/2022)
11/15/2022 128 ORDER that the motions to dismiss 94 , 95 , 96 and 97 are granted. ***CIVIL CASE TERMINATED. Signed by Judge Kevin McNulty on 11/15/2022. (sm) (Entered: 11/15/2022)

What was the suit about?

UPDATE (11/20/22): Plaintiffs filed another amended complaint on Friday, 11/18.  It will take a little while to evaluate the new / changing claims)

As per Plaintiffs:

“This case is about religious liberties and the discriminatory and unequal practices of the Teaneck, its employees, and its Zoning Board of Adjustments… Despite years and thousands of dollars spent to appease the Defendants’ unlawful and discriminatory requirements, Defendants continue to act in violation of the Constitutions of the United States and New Jersey, as well as the Federal law explicitly prohibiting religious discrimination by discriminating against the Plaintiffs and imposing an unlawful burden on the practice of their faith.”
– Page 2 of amended complaint (Introduction)

Did the town discriminate against AUCC? Or was something else going on?

As it turned out, Judge McNulty said the case was more about the difficulties of land use and getting projects through boards.

“AUCC’s frustration is palpable. It emphasizes in the amended complaint that it has been “going through this process for years with no end in sight.” (Compl. ¶213.) Adding insult to injury, the ZBA has demanded that AUCC put up more money to fund its continued application process. (Id. ¶162.) The delay and AUCC’s frustration, however, are hardly unique in the annals of local land use regulation, and the process does seem to be at least potentially moving ahead, on a revised legal basis.”
Opinion at page 14

Let’s run through the opinion: Continue reading “AUCC Lawsuit Update: Dismissed”

Combatting Misinformation: Stop & Shop (American Legion Drive)

In my previous post, I spoke about misinformation regarding bonding and how taxation works for various projects.  Today, I want to speak to the projects contemplated for Stop & Shop, American Legion Drive, and Cedar Lane.

  • Fact: Teaneck wants and has always wanted, Stop & Shop to stay and thrive (and even expand) in its current location.
  • Fact: Teaneck never asked or pressured Stop & Shop to close or move; Stop & Shop is not looking to close or move.
  • Fact: Other than concepts discussed by the parties, no plans exist for the area and no plans have been approved either by the Council or the Planning Board.
  • Fact: Any future plans for the area are still subject to many open public meetings, with legal notice
  • Fact: All plans being contemplated are voluntary to help businesses in the area.

So what’s been happening with Stop & Shop?

Of all the issues I speak to residents about, this may be one where the most misinformation is being spread.

Let’s talk about what’s been happening here.

Most people agree that we want a robust Stop & Shop that serves the needs of the town.  At that point, the rumors spread like wildfire.

On the Township Website, Stop & Shop & the Township posted a joint statement:

“Stop & Shop, in conjunction with the Township of Teaneck, is issuing this memo in the hope of dispelling the rumors circulating in the community that Stop & Shop’s Teaneck store might close.  The Township never asked or pressured Stop & Shop to close its store and Stop & Shop is not looking to close or move from its present Teaneck location on American Legion Drive.”

So what is the Town trying to do?

Continue reading “Combatting Misinformation: Stop & Shop (American Legion Drive)”

The Value of Predictions

In 2019, the Teaneck Board of Education hired Whitehall Associates, Inc. (a qualified demographer by the New Jersey Department of Education) to conduct an independent analysis of the effects of new development on the Teaneck Schools.  The analysis (available here) projected enrollments based on particular projects and to the overall school system through the 2023-24 school year.  Some of the numbers were purely projections (as the pre-k and K classes hadn’t been born yet), but the rest were based on trends and the scientific methodology as outlined in the report and consistent with NJDOE practices.

So how good were the predictions?

To find that out, I contacted Superintendent Dr. Christopher Irving and asked for information regarding the number of students in these locations.

Below is a list of the predictions from Table 4 of the report and the corresponding chart indicates how well those predictions have been borne out in reality.

Location# of Apartment
Units
Predicted #
of school age
children
Actual # of
school age
children
Difference
1500 Teaneck Road2264414-30
1775 Windsor Road (Avalon)2486328-35
890 Palisade Avenue740-4
1387 Hill Street720-2
764 New Bridge Road1910-1
1475 Palisade Avenue120284-24
227 Teaneck Road24711+4
Totals65114957-92

Out of the predicted 150 school-age children attending the Teaneck Schools, only 57 have moved into these developments.

Broken down by school, the numbers show an average of 1-2 kids per class, max.  In short, there is roughly zero impact on the top line item in the school budget: staff, based on the people moving into new developments.

School# of students
Bryant Elementary School6
AUCC‐ PK Location1
Theodora Smiley
Lacey School
4
Lowell Elementary School8
Whittier Elementary School10
Benjamin Franklin Middle School5
Thomas Jefferson Middle School2
Teaneck High School19
Out of District1
Charter School1
Total57

Teaneck BOE: Independent Demographic Study of Impact of New Development

Developer Sues Teaneck For Not Permitting Off-Site Affordable Housing

The Township said only on-site affordable housing units.  The Developer agreed.

Then they sued to change the terms.

Developer promised affordable units in Teaneck but hasn’t built any, lawsuit says

As per the Bergen Record:

“Teaneck is facing another lawsuit regarding affordable housing after a developer failed to provide two affordable units agreed upon in the site plan, the Fair Share Housing Center alleges.”

The developer signed an agreement to build two affordable units on-site.  But when the Township wouldn’t let them renegotiate the agreement, they filed suit.

Back in May, attorney Gail Price filed a lawsuit for her client Red Realty against Teaneck and the head of our Building Department.  At issue was the denial of a temporary certificate of occupancy to the builder.

In short, the builder applied to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (“ZBOA”) for permission to build 19 apartments back in 2015/16.  Among the requirements set forth by the ZBOA, he had to:

  • Build 2 Affordable Apartments in addition to Market Rate units
  • Sign a developers agreement with the Township

The ZBOA grant of variance allowed for the affordable units to be built on or off site (the appeal pre-dated the ordinance requiring only on-site affordable housing units), but the developer’s agreement required only on-site and inclusionary affordable apartments.

  • “E. Affordable Housing. The Applicant shall be required to provide 2 affordable housing units either within the development. Or in the alternative, the Applicant may provide 2 units elsewhere in the Township. A contribution to a fund will not be considered an option or be permitted.”
  • “F (3): The within Approval is conditioned upon the Applicant entering into a Developer’s Agreement with the Township. The Developer’s Agreement shall contain the applicable conditions of this resolution.

Resolution of the ZBOA

  • 59. Affordable Housing UnitsThe Developer shall provide not less than 2 on-siteaffordable housing units in connection with the proposed development.  The Developer shall be required to comply with all legal requirements necessary to render the aforedescribed affordable housing units as affordable housing units to low and moderate income families as those terms are defined pursuant to the regulations established by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAI-l) or its successor and the Housing Affordability Controls regulations (N.J.A.C. 5:80-26 et seq.). The Applicant shall be required to take all actions necessary to insure that the unit is deemed to be an affordable housing unit acceptable to COAI-I, and shall be affirmatively marketed in compliance with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act. The units shall also be deed restricted in accordance with COAH regulations and only be rented or sold to an income qualified individual.
    Developer’s Agreement with Township

When the applicant asked for permission to do off-site affordable housing units, the Township emphatically said: No!

When asked if they could have a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (“TCO”) to allow them to rent their market-rate units, the Township said: No!

So they sued.  And a Judge granted their papers, ordering the Teaneck building department to give them a TCO.  You can read the decision here.

But the case is not over

As per the complaint filed this week,

57. After Judge Farrington’s June 11, 2021 Order, counsel for the Township of Teaneck contacted counsel for Fair Share Housing Center.
58. Counsel for Teaneck informed FSHC of the action and what had transpired.
Complaint filed by Fair Share (available here)

Fair Share filed a letter in the existing litigation and sued on their own as well.

“FSHC is gravely concerned that if RREA receives its TCOs for all its market-rate units before it has provided any of the required affordable housing units, the affordable homes will never be built.”
Fair Share Housing Letter

Now, as per the Record:

“The center filed the suit Tuesday in Superior Court in Bergen County, naming not only the developer but also Teaneck and its Board of Adjustment. The attorneys for the township, the Board of Adjustment and Red Real Estate Associates were not immediately available for comment.”

Complaint available here

Stay tuned.

 

The End of Prohibition in Teaneck? [Part 1]

It seems that the end of prohibition may officially be on the horizon.  Once a never-ending war on the foul drugs of decadence, those in the temperance movement on the waning side of history.

What will the future be like in the USA, NJ, and Teaneck in particular once prohibition is finally over?

It’s unclear for sure, but we will track developments here. Continue reading “The End of Prohibition in Teaneck? [Part 1]”

Glenpointe Settlement Data

The Settlement with Glenpointe announced and approved by the Township includes:

  • 2007 through 2010 (part of litigation)
  • 2011 through 2019* (additional years not part of litigation)

The full amount the Township is refunding based on the litigation is: $1,711,869 + interest

The chart below indicates the refunds by year, which can also be found in Resolution 58-2021 on the Township’s website.

*  While not part of the litigation, years 2011-12 were subject to the “Freeze Act

 

Glenpointe Tax Appeal in the Rear-view Mirror

What is the Glenpointe Tax Appeal?

The Glenpointe complex, consisting of Hotels, Offices, Atriums, parking lots and more appealed the assessment of their taxes for the years 2007 through 20101.

Had the Glenpointe prevailed, the Township would have been responsible for refunding over $15 million dollars.

[Note: $15M figure does not take into account tax appeals for years 2011 through 2018, which are included in the settlement agreed to by the parties]

After the Superior Court found mostly for the Town, the appeals were ultimately settled for $8,083,000 (including interest).

From Judge Andresini:
(all quotes are fully explained below with relevant links to the opinion)

[T]he court rejects Plaintiff’s expert’s determination of stabilized revenue. Given that the Township’s expert’s stabilized ADR figures are in line with the actual ADR of the subject Hotel for the relevant tax years, did not overstate the effect of the economic downturn on those years, and are supported by the comparable data sets contained in the PKF trends he used, the court finds his stabilization of the subject Hotel’s revenues to be reliable and will adopt his conclusions of revenues accordingly.

Continue reading “Glenpointe Tax Appeal in the Rear-view Mirror”

Blue Teaneck Throwing Shade

On his page, local gadfly Bill Orr has a post about housing in Teaneck.

This is an important issue and worth taking a look at, in depth.

“Housing should be a basic human right for all not just those who are affluent. Increasingly such is not the case in Teaneck. With people moving from NYC and elsewhere to our town, it has brought us higher prices and done little to help those who cannot afford these costs.”

There are two ways to reduce housing costs.

  1. Create more housing
  2. Reduce the value of existing housing

What does Blue Teaneck suggest Teaneck do? Continue reading “Blue Teaneck Throwing Shade”

Hotel Tax Revenue Numbers

We just received the Hotel Tax revenue numbers from our CFO.

Hotel Occupancy Tax

The 2019 hotel tax revenue (excluding December) is $830,425.44.

This amount represents an approximately 29.4% increase over the final 2018 number of $641,689.32.  And will rise when December numbers are added into the mix.

Property Tax Increase

The prior parking lot in this space brought in a mere $18,819 in yearly tax revenue and is projected to grow to $1,600,000 in 2019.

Additional Revenue

The Township also realized approximately $381,000 in building permit fees.