• July 7, 2009

    Governor Corzine Signs Bill to Allow Conversion of 55+ Housing

    On July 2, 2009, Governor Corzine signed into law a bill (S2577) that allows builders to apply to local planning boards to convert age-restricted (55+) residential developments to non-age restricted developments that would be open to persons of all ages.

    Builders that have not sold any units or taken deposits for sales can immediately apply to planning boards to convert approvals obtained prior to July 2, 2009, provided they agree to set aside 20% of the units as affordable housing, conform to the Residential Site Improvement Standards and building codes, demonstrate that the water supply and sanitary sewer systems are adequate to serve the converted development, and show that there are sufficient parking facilities for the converted development.

    If additional water or sewer capacity is needed and the builder is unable to obtain it, the number of housing units will have to be reduced. Likewise, if additional parking is needed and the builder cannot provide it, the number of units must be reduced. If additional parking increases the impervious area of the site by more than one percent, the stormwater management calculations and system will have to be revised.

    The bill gives builders the discretion to reasonably revise the sudivision or site plan to accommodate additional recreation facilities, parking and other improvements, change the height of buildings and revise footprints, provided there is no increase in the total square footage of the development or the total number of housing units.

    In reviewing an application to convert a development, a planning board may consider whether approving a conversion would be "detrimental to the public good." The law allows a builder to appeal a denial to the Law Division of the Superior Court, which must consider whether the planning board's denial was reasonable.

    While the law expires on July 31, 2011, local planning boards may - at their own discretion - extend the period for conversions by up to 24 months if they find that poor real estate market conditions justify an extension of time.

    Henry T. Chou , is a partner of Hill Wallack LLP and member of the firm’s Land Use Division. His practice is concentrated in the areas of land use applications and litigation.