Township of Chester, NJ
Morris County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Chester as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 8-4-1987 by Ord. No. 9:7-87]

§ 108-1 Introduction and purpose.

A. 
The Mayor and Council of the Township of Chester acknowledge that there has previously been established the Chester Township Affordable Housing Trust Corporation, a corporation not for profit of the State of New Jersey which corporation was established by the Mayor and Council, previously, as a means to promote four basic housing-related matters:
(1) 
To provide technical and financial assistance where needed to small lot owners to encourage them to develop quality, low-cost housing.
(2) 
To develop low-cost housing directly.
(3) 
To provide assistance to the Township in managing the low-cost housing program.
(4) 
To provide a working fund of capital to be used as grants, subsidies or loans as may be required to help meet the Township's obligations under Mt. Laurel II.
B. 
This article has been adopted in order to establish a mechanism and procedure for addressing Chester Township's indigenous housing need through the Chester Township Affordable Housing Trust Corporation, pursuant to and consistent with the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court, in South Burlington County NAACP v. Mt. Laurel Tp., 92 N.J. 158 (1983) ("Mt. Laurel II"), the Fair Housing Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301 et seq., and the regulations of the Council on Affordable Housing, N.J.A.C. 5:92-1 et seq.
C. 
While the Township of Chester recognizes that the Council on Affordable Housing has defined certain standards, rules and regulations referred to as "affordability controls," at the same time, the Mayor and Council of the Township of Chester recognize that, due to the significantly increased value of homes and land in the Township of Chester, the above-referenced affordability controls of the Council on Affordable Housing are inappropriate for application in the Township of Chester since even deficient units as defined under the rules and regulations of the Council on Affordable Housing have a fair market value in Chester Township far in excess of any maximum selling price permitted under such affordability controls as determined by the Council on Affordable Housing. If the affordability controls established by the Council on Affordable Housing were utilized without modification, there would be no economic incentive for potential applicants to participate under the program established by this article. Additionally, since the Mayor and Council of the Township of Chester have previously determined to principally satisfy the Township's Mt. Laurel II housing obligations through rehabilitation and since such a determination has in fact been ratified and accepted as appropriate in general concept for the Township of Chester by the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, the Mayor and Council have determined and herein find that the modified affordability controls stated hereinbelow are necessary to provide a realistic opportunity for the correction of deficient housing within the Township of Chester consistent with its Mt. Laurel II obligation as previously determined by the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey.

§ 108-2 Definitions.

The definitions of terms not found below are the same as those definitions that appear in the Fair Housing Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301 et seq., and the rules and regulations adopted by the Council on Affordable Housing in N.J.A.C. 5:91 or 5:92. As used in this article, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
APPLICANT
The person or persons applying for technical or financial assistance for housing rehabilitation.
CHESTER TOWNSHIP AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST CORPORATION or HOUSING TRUST
The entity established by Chester Township § in 113-218 of Chapter 113, Land Use, Part 5, Zoning, which is responsible for administering the Housing Trust Fund and the Affordable Housing Program.
[Amended 6-2-1997]
CHESTER TOWNSHIP AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST FUND or HOUSING TRUST FUND
The fund established by Chester Township in § 113-218 of Chapter 113, Land Use, Part 5, Zoning.
[Amended 6-2-1997]
DEFICIENT UNIT
A dwelling unit that is unsafe and/or unsanitary based upon one or more of the following characteristics:
A. 
One and one-hundredth or more persons per room.
B. 
Absence of a private entranceway to the dwelling unit.
C. 
Absence of adequate kitchen or plumbing facilities, including a sink, piped water, a stove and a refrigerator.
D. 
Absence of central heat.
E. 
One or more major structural deficiencies.
HOUSING ADMINISTRATOR
The person designated to administer the provisions of this article.
INDIGENOUS NEED
Deficient housing units occupied by low- and moderate-income households within Chester Township.
LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLD
A household with a gross household income equal to 50% or less of the median gross household income adjusted for household size within the region including Chester Township, based upon the schedule relied upon by the Council on Affordable Housing, which schedule is currently prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
MODERATE-INCOME HOUSEHOLD
A household with a gross household income equal to or greater than 50%, but less than 80%, of the median gross household income adjusted for household size within the region including Chester Township, based upon the schedule relied upon by the Council on Affordable Housing, which schedule is currently prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
REHABILITATION
The restoration of a deficient unit to a decent, safe and sanitary condition by eliminating the condition(s) making the unit deficient.

§ 108-3 Eligibility.

A. 
Eligibility for housing assistance requires that:
(1) 
Any dwelling unit to be rehabilitated must be a deficient unit, which is either occupied by or will be occupied by a low- or moderate-income household.
(2) 
All required forms must be completed in a timely fashion.
(3) 
The rehabilitation plan must, upon completion, result in the elimination of all deficiencies. The Construction Official will review the adequacy of the plan before final approval, and approve the same upon completion.
(4) 
Any loan/grant from the Trust Fund shall constitute a lien on the property, subject to the terms and conditions in §§ 108-4 and 108-5 of this article.
B. 
The provisions of this article shall apply to all housing units which receive assistance through the Affordable Housing Program established herein. The applicant must agree, in writing, to comply with its terms.

§ 108-4 Terms of assistance.

[Amended 3-15-1988 by Ord. No. 9:7A-88]
A. 
The maximum amount of assistance per applicant shall be $15,000, unless a waiver is granted by the Housing Trust based upon a determination that the deficient unit cannot be adequately rehabilitated for a lesser amount.
B. 
Rehabilitation assistance provided to a low-income household shall be in the form of a non-interest-bearing, deferred-payment loan, which may be converted to a grant in accordance with the terms of the applicable repayment lien provided for under § 108-5.
C. 
Rehabilitation assistance provided to a moderate-income household shall be in the form of a deferred-payment loan. Interest shall accrue at an annual rate of 5%, but the repayment of accrued interest may be forgiven in accordance with the terms of the applicable repayment lien provided for under § 108-5.
D. 
The deferred-payment loan shall be secured by a recorded lien on the real property in accordance with the provisions of § 108-5.
E. 
All rehabilitation assistance shall be provided subject to the provisions of § 108-5, which require a repayment lien and also rental affordibilty controls in the case of rental housing.

§ 108-5 Repayment liens and rental affordability controls.

[Amended 3-15-1988 by Ord. No. 9:7A-88]
Any applicant receiving assistance under this article shall be subject to and shall consent to the recording of a lien on the real property, including the following provisions, as applicable:
A. 
In the case of the assistance for a housing unit owned and occupied by a low-income household, the repayment lien shall secure the full amount of the deferred-payment loan and shall require immediate payment to the Housing Trust of the secured amount upon any conveyance of the property, except for a conveyance at an affordable sales price to another low-income household. This lien shall have a term of six years, running from the date of closing on the deferred-payment loan. Upon the expiration of said term, the deferred-payment loan shall be converted to a grant and the lien shall be released. In the event of a conveyance to another low-income household during the said six-year term, such conveyance shall be made subject to the repayment lien, which shall remain in effect for the balance of its original six-year term.
B. 
In the case of assistance for a housing unit owned and occupied by a moderate-income household, the repayment lien shall secure the full amount of the deferred-payment loan plus accrued interest and shall require immediate payment to the Housing Trust of the secured amount upon any conveyance of the property, except for a conveyance at an affordable sales price to another low- or moderate-income household. This lien shall have a term of 20 years, running from the date of closing on the deferred-payment loan. Upon the expiration of the initial six years of said term, the repayment of accrued interest shall be forgiven and no additional interest shall accrue. Thereafter, the principal amount of the deferred-payment loan shall be payable to the Housing Trust upon any conveyance of the property. Upon the expiration of the full twenty-year period, the principal amount of the deferred-payment loan, if still outstanding, shall be converted to a grant, and the lien shall be released. In the event of a conveyance to another low- or moderate-income household during the initial six-year term of the repayment lien, such conveyance shall be made subject to the repayment lien, which shall remain in effect for the balance of its original term.
C. 
In the case of assistance for a housing unit leased to a low-income household, the repayment lien shall secure the full amount of the deferred-payment loan and shall further require compliance with the rental affordability control provided for by Subsection E hereunder. This lien shall have a term of 10 years, running from the date of closing on the deferred-payment loan. Upon the expiration of said term, the deferred-payment loan shall be converted to a grant, and the lien shall be released.
D. 
In the case of assistance for a housing unit leased to a moderate-income household, the repayment lien shall secure the full amount of the deferred-payment loan plus accrued interest and shall further require compliance with the rental affordability control provided for by Subsection E hereunder. This lien shall have a term of 20 years, running from the date of closing on the deferred-payment loan. Upon the expiration of the initial 10 years of said term, the repayment of accrued interest shall be forgiven and no additional interest shall accrue. Thereafter, the full principal amount of the deferred-payment loan shall be paid to the Housing Trust upon any leasing or occupancy of the housing unit by a nonlower income household. Upon the expiration of the twenty-year term, the full principal amount of the deferred-payment loan, if still outstanding, shall be paid to the Housing Trust, and the lien shall be released.
E. 
In the case of assistance for a housing unit leased to either a low- or moderate-income household, the applicant shall consent to a deed restriction requiring that the dwelling unit may only be leased to, or otherwise occupied by, a low- or moderate-income household at a rental amount which does not exceed the affordable rent as applicable to the particular dwelling unit size. This deed restriction shall be a real convenant running with the land and shall bind successors in interest for a period of 10 years from the date of closing on the deferred-payment loan. This deed restriction shall be termed the "rental affordability control," and it shall require compliance with all of the following requirements:
(1) 
Prior to any change in occupancy of a housing unit subject to a rental affordability control, the owner shall apply for a certificate of affordable housing from the Housing Administrator. The application shall include a copy of the proposed lease and an affidavit by the owner that the affordable rent restriction will be adhered to. Upon request, the Housing Administrator will assist the owner in locating an income-eligible tenant. Any prospective tenant must submit adequate proof of household income and household size. If the Housing Administrator or designee determines that the proposed change in occupancy will be in compliance with the rental affordability control, then a certificate of affordable housing shall be issued.
(2) 
The permissible affordable rent shall be adjusted annually based on the change in median income for the region, according to data relied upon by the Council on Affordable Housing.
(3) 
An owner of property subject to a rental affordability control may apply to the Housing Administrator for permission to increase the affordable rent for capital improvements which render the unit suitable for a larger household, provided that such change does not result in the displacement of existing low- or moderate-income occupants. The new rent shall not exceed the affordable rent permitted for such larger household size.

§ 108-6 Administration.

A. 
The Chester Township Council, upon the recommendation of the Affordable Housing Trust, shall appoint an individual to serve as Housing Administrator who may be an elected or appointed Township Official.
B. 
The duties of the Housing Administrator shall include:
(1) 
Publicizing the Township's Affordable Housing Program through:
(a) 
At least once annually, a direct mailing to all Township residents announcing the Affordable Housing Program and explaining its eligibility requirements and application procedures.
(b) 
Public meetings to answer questions.
(c) 
A poster highlighting its main features to be prominently displayed in the Municipal Building.
(d) 
The issuance of periodic press releases to inform the public and create interest.
(e) 
Preparation of information and application packets for interested applicants.
(f) 
Mailing informational materials to all residents whose housing units have been identified through a housing survey or through other means as being deficient.
(2) 
Development of the application and financial statements needed to apply to the Affordable Housing Program. The application will clearly state that any applicant who receives financial assistance through the Affordable Housing Program must agree to the terms and conditions contained herein. The application shall require proof of property ownership and a description and cost estimate of the proposed work needed to satisfy the Affordable Housing Program's requirements. The financial form shall be used to determine income eligibility, and it shall indicate that the information submitted will be kept strictly confidential. The Chester Township Affordable Housing Trust shall approve these forms prior to distribution to applicants.
(3) 
Determination of eligibility of applicants based on the requirements of this article.
(4) 
Maintenance of a comprehensive file of all sources of financial assistance for housing rehabilitation.
(5) 
Technical aid in applying for financial assistance from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as well as other sources.
(6) 
Preparation and presentation of a report on each eligible application to the Housing Trust for a grant/loan from the Housing Trust Fund.
(7) 
Preparation and presentation of an annual report to the Township Council and Housing Trust Fund at the close of each fiscal year. The report shall indicate the status, including any information available from the Construction Official, of the condition of each unit that has been or will be rehabilitated and shall include a full financial accounting of the program. The report shall recommend any appropriate improvements or modifications in the administrative and substantive elements of the program.
(8) 
Provide for periodic housing surveys of the rehabilitation needs of the Township's low- and moderate-income housing stock.
(9) 
Maintenance of current listings of the income limits by household size for low- and moderate-income households.
(10) 
Establish and publicize specific regular hours to meet with interested Township residents at the Municipal Building.
C. 
The Construction Official shall have the following duties, in addition to all other code enforcement duties for which he/she is responsible:
(1) 
Determination of the deficiency of an applicant's unit under the provisions of this article. The Construction Official's evaluation of deficiency shall be reported, in writing, to the Housing Administrator for presentation to the Housing Trust.
(2) 
Determination of whether the proposed work will satisfy the criteria of the Affordable Housing Program. The Construction Official's report on the description and cost of work shall be made, in writing, to the Housing Administrator.
(3) 
Inspection and, when completed, certification of the rehabilitation. The certificate shall bear the date of the inspection and shall be indicated by a written report to the Housing Administrator.

§ 108-7 Procedure for application, review and approval.

A. 
Determination of eligibility. It shall be incumbent upon the members of the Chester Township Affordable Housing Trust to determine the eligibility of any and all applicants who may be presented to said corporation in accordance with the following:
(1) 
There shall be no limitation upon the manner in which applicants may be made known to the Chester Township Affordable Housing Trust Corporation. So long as any member of the Chester Township Affordable Housing Trust Corporation or any officer of the Corporation is notified, either in writing or verbally, of a potential applicant, the same shall be processed in accordance with the procedures outlined below.
(2) 
All applicants shall be required to complete an application intake form. All information required thereon shall be completed or, in the alternative, a satisfactory explanation be given as to why the same can not be supplied. This application form shall be utilized to make two basic determinations. First, the application shall be used to determine whether the application is for a low- or moderate-income household. Secondly, said application intake form shall be used to determine whether the housing unit is deficient as defined above.
B. 
Processing and inspection. Once an application has been completed and filed, the Housing Administrator shall make an initial determination and verification as to income eligibility. Thereafter, if deemed to be initially eligible, and within two weeks of said determination, the Housing Administrator or his or her designee shall make an on-site visual inspection to determine the existence and verification of a housing deficiency. All determinations required of the Housing Administrator or his or her designee shall be confirmed in writing and be filed with the Chester Township Affordable Housing Corporation, with a copy served upon the applicant.
C. 
Rehabilitation estimates. Thereafter, if it appears that the applicant meets the financial prerequisites and an appropriate housing deficiency exists, it shall be incumbent upon the applicant, or his or her representative, to obtain a minimum of two written rehabilitation estimates which are adequately detailed with respect to work to be performed and costs thereof to correct said housing deficiency. This requirement, however, can be waived by the Housing Administrator or his or her designee or the Chester Township Affordable Housing Corporation in the event that the applicant shows good cause why it is impossible to obtain two estimates as required or if an emergent situation with respect to the housing deficiency exists. In any event, said estimates, or written explanation for the absence of the same, shall be filed with the Housing Administrator or his or her designee within 30 days as required herein.
D. 
Formal action. Within 30 days after receipt of said determination of eligibility and written estimates, a meeting of the Chester Township Affordable Housing Corporation shall be scheduled, at which time the Housing Administrator shall present to the members of the Chester Township Affordable Housing Corporation a copy of the original application, with all supporting documentation required therein, a copy of the determination of said official as to initial qualification of said applicant and copies of all estimates received to date. The Chester Township Affordable Housing Corporation will then make a determination as to the correctness of said documents and, if it is determined that the application is in order, will determine the income eligibility associated with the application. In the event that the application is determined to be for a low or moderate household income and the rehabilitation plan is deemed appropriate, a grant or loan shall be approved in accordance with §§ 108-4 and 108-5 above.
E. 
If the Chester Township Affordable Housing Trust Corporation approves the application, the rehabilitation may begin as soon as all necessary agreements have been signed. The Housing Trust shall arrange for periodic payments to be made directly to the contractor(s) listed in the approved application upon completion of each stage of the work and its approval by the applicant and the Construction Official.

§ 108-8 Interpretation.

This article shall be interpreted to the extent necessary so as to be consistent with state law and the regulations of the Council on Affordable Housing.
[Adopted 6-1-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-9]

§ 108-9 Purpose.

The purpose of this article is to create the administrative mechanisms needed for the execution of Chester Township's responsibility to assist in the provision of affordable housing pursuant to the Fair Housing Act of 1985.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301 et seq.

§ 108-10 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ADMINISTRATIVE AGENT
The entity responsible for administering the affordability controls of some or all units in the affordable housing program for Chester Township to ensure that the restricted units under administration are affirmatively marketed and sold or rented, as applicable, only to low- and moderate-income households.
MUNICIPAL HOUSING LIAISON
The employee charged by the governing body with the responsibility for oversight and administration of the affordable housing program for Chester Township.

§ 108-11 Establishment of position; compensation; powers and duties.

A. 
There is hereby established the position of Municipal Housing Liaison for Chester Township.
B. 
Subject to the approval of the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), the Municipal Housing Liaison shall be appointed by the governing body and may be a full- or part-time municipal employee.
C. 
The Municipal Housing Liaison shall be responsible for oversight and administration of the affordable housing program for Chester Township, including the following responsibilities which may not be contracted out, exclusive of Subsection C(6), which may be contracted out:
(1) 
Serving as Chester Township's primary point of contact for all inquiries from the state, affordable housing providers, administrative agents, and interested households;
(2) 
Monitoring the status of all restricted units in Chester Township's fair share plan;
(3) 
Compiling, verifying and submitting annual reports as required by COAH;
(4) 
Coordinating meetings with affordable housing providers and administrative agents, as applicable;
(5) 
Attending continuing education opportunities on affordability controls, compliance monitoring and affirmative marketing as offered or approved by COAH;
(6) 
If applicable, serving as the administrative agent for some or all of the restricted units in Chester Township as described in Subsection F below.
D. 
Subject to approval by COAH, Chester Township may contract with or authorize a consultant, authority, government or any agency charged by the governing body, which entity shall have the responsibility of administering the affordable housing program of Chester Township, except for those responsibilities which may not be contracted out pursuant to Subsection C above. If Chester Township contracts with another entity to administer all or any part of the affordable housing program, including the affordability controls and affirmative marketing plan, the Municipal Housing Liaison shall supervise the contracting administrative agent.
E. 
Compensation. Compensation shall be fixed by the governing body at the time of the appointment of the Municipal Housing Liaison.
F. 
Administrative powers and duties assigned to the Municipal Housing Liaison.
(1) 
Affirmative marketing.
(a) 
Conducting an outreach process to ensure affirmative marketing of affordable housing units in accordance with the affirmative marketing plan of Chester Township and the provisions of N.J.A.C. 5:80-26.15; and
(b) 
Providing counseling or contracting to provide counseling services to low- and moderate-income applicants on subjects such as budgeting, credit issues, mortgage qualification, rental lease requirements and landlord/tenant law.
(2) 
Household certification.
(a) 
Soliciting, scheduling, conducting and following up on interviews with interested households;
(b) 
Conducting interviews and obtaining sufficient documentation of gross income and assets upon which to base a determination of income eligibility for a low- or moderate-income unit;
(c) 
Providing written notification to each applicant as to the determination of eligibility or noneligibility;
(d) 
Requiring that all certified applicants for restricted units execute a certificate substantially in the form, as applicable, of either the ownership or rental certificates set forth in Appendixes J and K of N.J.A.C. 5:80-26.1 et seq.;
(e) 
Creating and maintaining a referral list of eligible applicant households living in the housing region and eligible applicant households with members working in the housing region where the units are located; and
(f) 
Employing the random selection process as provided in the affirmative marketing plan of Chester Township when referring households for certification to affordable units.
(3) 
Affordability controls.
(a) 
Furnishing to attorneys or closing agents forms of deed restrictions and mortgages for recording at the time of conveyance of title of each restricted unit;
(b) 
Creating and maintaining a file on each restricted unit for its control period, including the recorded deed with restrictions, recorded mortgage and note, as appropriate;
(c) 
Ensuring that the removal of the deed restrictions and cancellation of the mortgage note are effectuated and properly filed with the appropriate county's register of deeds or county clerk's office after the termination of the affordability controls for each restricted unit;
(d) 
Communicating with lenders regarding foreclosures; and
(e) 
Ensuring the issuance of continuing certificates of occupancy or certifications pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:80-26.10.
(4) 
Resale and rental.
(a) 
Instituting and maintaining an effective means of communicating information between owners and the administrative agent regarding the availability of restricted units for resale or rental; and
(b) 
Instituting and maintaining an effective means of communicating information to low- and moderate-income households regarding the availability of restricted units for resale or rerental.
(5) 
Processing requests from unit owners.
(a) 
Reviewing and approving requests from owners of restricted units who wish to take out home equity loans or refinance during the term of their ownership;
(b) 
Reviewing and approving requests to increase sales prices from owners of restricted units who wish to make capital improvements to the units that would affect the selling price, such authorizations to be limited to those improvements resulting in additional bedrooms or bathrooms and the cost of central air-conditioning systems; and
(c) 
Processing requests and making determinations on requests by owners of restricted units for hardship waivers.
(6) 
Enforcement.
(a) 
Securing annually lists of all affordable housing units for which tax bills are mailed to absentee owners and notifying all such owners that they must either move back to their units or sell them;
(b) 
Securing from all developers and sponsors of restricted units, at the earliest point of contact in the processing of the project or development, written acknowledgement of the requirement that no restricted unit can be offered, or in any other way committed, to any person, other than a household duly certified to the unit by the administrative agent;
(c) 
The posting annually in all rental properties, including two-family homes, of a notice as to the maximum permitted rent, together with the telephone number of the administrative agent where complaints of excess rent can be made;
(d) 
Sending annual mailings to all owners of affordable dwelling units, reminding them of the notices and requirements outlined in N.J.A.C. 5:80-26.18(d)4;
(e) 
Establishing a program for diverting unlawful rent payments to the municipality's affordable housing trust fund or other appropriate municipal fund approved by the DCA;
(f) 
Creating and publishing a written operating manual, as approved by COAH, setting forth procedures for administering such affordability controls; and
(g) 
Providing annual reports to COAH as required.
(7) 
The administrative agent shall have authority to take all actions necessary and appropriate to carry out its responsibilities hereunder.