Princeton officials underestimated the cost of challenging the town’s affordable housing obligation in court by 260 percent.
The governing body is slated tonight to vote on a resolution that would increase the amount of money Princeton will spend on an affordable housing lawsuit from $50,000 to $180,000.
The municipality joined East Windsor Township, Hamilton Township, Hopewell Township, Lawrence Township and West Windsor Township in challenging the methodology used to establish municipal fair share affordable housing obligations. Other municipalities in the county already settled regarding their fair share affordable housing obligations.
In December, the governing body approved the appointment of Jeffrey R. Surenian and Associates and The Buzak Law Group as special counsel in the trial on the fair share methodological issues. The council also authorized the mayor to enter into professional services agreements with Surenian and Buzak, Econsult Solutions, Inc., and Nassau Capital Advisors, LLC for services during the trial.
In December, Princeton’s estimated cost for Surenian’s and Buzak was $25,000 and the estimated cost for Econsult Solutions and Nassau Capital Advisors was $25,000. Officials said the length of the trial and the need for new calculations caused the cost overruns.
Officials touted an “agreement in principle” in the lawsuit a month ago, yet as of today no formal agreement has been approved and is not on the agenda for the Princeton Council’s 7 p.m. public meeting tonight. The council is slated to discuss the lawsuit in closed session tonight at 5:30 p.m.
Superior Court judges throughout the state have been tasked with assigning hundreds of municipalities an “obligation,” or number of affordable units that the municipality must include in zoning plans. Affordable housing advocates and many developers push for a higher number of units, and municipalities often advocate for fewer units.