1. How many municipalities are in the same situation (under COAH's administrative review and filed a declaratory judgement action) as LHT?
Approximately 330 municipalities were members of the consortium that was formed to pool resources and to hire experts to respond to the Kinsey Report that was prepared for the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC). There may have been some other towns that filed declaratory judgment actions, but who did not participate in the consortium, but it would have been just a handful.
2. How many of those municipalities have settled with the court as of December 14, 2016?
We have been advised by FSHC that approximately 25% of the cases have been settled. We also checked NJ Courts Online to try to ascertain the status of the Morris County cases. There is very limited information at that site, but, of the 27 actions that were originally filed, 23 are listed as “active, 3 have been dismissed without prejudice, and one is marked “dismissed.” but there is a case management conference scheduled for January in that case. It may be that some Morris County towns have settled their cases, but it is not yet reflected on the Courts website.
3. After four case management conferences, an out-of-court settlement conference in Morristown, and settlement conferences with LHT and the Fair Share Housing Center, why has LHT not been able to come to a settlement?
Case management conferences deal only with scheduling, so there were no settlement discussions at those conferences. There have been numerous communications between the Township and FSHC, but only one settlement conference has been held to date. We are in the process of scheduling another out-of-court settlement conference.
4. Where is the bottleneck in coming to a settlement?
I would not call it a bottleneck. There are a lot of complicated issues to resolve.
5. Should LHT request a mediator to be assigned to the case to further assist in bringing the case to a settlement?
The Court will appoint a “special master,” if we request one, but we feel that we are better off dealing directly with FSHC.
6. Has LHT's current sewer ban and the current capacity of our sewer plant been a discussion item in the settlement conferences with the Fair Share Housing Center?
Yes, the sewer ban is a major sticking point.
7. For the municipalities that have settled their cases, does the settlement include the obligations for the "gap period" from 1999 to 2015?
To the best of our knowledge, every settlement has included the gap period.