Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rutherford Exits Housing Consortium

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rutherford Exits Housing Consortium

Article excerpt

RUTHERFORD -- The Borough Council on Monday dropped out of a consortium of more than 100 New Jersey towns that had retained a now- ailing Rutgers University professor as an affordable-housing consultant.

The council voted to have its two borough attorneys, Phillip LaPorta and his brother David LaPorta; labor counsel Eric Bernstein; and Planning Board Attorney Richard Allen work together to handle its affordable-housing analysis and projections. They will now perform the work that the Rutgers professor, Robert Burchell, was supposed to provide.

Rutherford's move came the same day that the New Jersey State League of Municipalities released two reports critical of controversial estimates by the Fair Share Housing Center, an advocacy group, of how much affordable housing is necessary. The center immediately fired back at the league.

The borough is one of the dozens of municipalities that were left in the lurch this month when it was disclosed that Burchell, who reportedly suffered a stroke, would not be able to serve as a consultant as part of a shared-services agreement. Rutgers also bowed out from participating in the affordable-housing research.

Burchell was partnering with Jeffrey Surenian, an attorney who put together a consortium of municipalities that would retain Burchell, the co-director of the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers, as their affordable-housing expert.

Several towns have followed Surenian's recommendation that they replace Burchell with Econsult Solutions Inc. of Philadelphia. Last week the Hasbrouck Heights Borough Council passed a resolution substituting Econsult for the professor, and East Rutherford did the same earlier this month.

But Rutherford decided to take a different route and have local lawyers perform Burchell's assignment, which was to establish the proper methodology to determine its "fair share" obligation for affordable housing, or how many such units it needs to build to fulfill state mandates.

Councilman Jack Manzo, the body's liaison on affordable housing, was critical of the position that the state's municipalities have been placed in, including paying for attorneys to attend meetings to make sense of the latest affordable-housing directives. …

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