Englewood Cliffs loses affordable housing lawsuit

A Bergen County judge has ruled against Englewood Cliffs in an affordable housing lawsuit, claiming the borough has “acted in bad faith” and “made a concerted effort to avoid compliance with its obligation.”

The decision by Bergen County Superior Court Judge Christine A. Farrington allows a private developer to sue the borough for the right to build a development with affordable units on the former Unilever campus.

It also strips Englewood Cliffs of immunity from future affordable housing lawsuits, opening the door for developers to build hundreds of affordable housing units.

“Judge Farrington’s ruling recognizes that Englewood Cliffs has used the legal process to continue policies designed to exclude working families from one of the wealthiest parts of the state,” said Fair Share Housing Center Executive Director Kevin Walsh.

Mayor Mario Kranjac says they plan to appeal the decision, claiming that until two weeks ago, Farrington had not provided the borough with the amount of affordable housing they were required to build, an obligation of 599 units.

“Now that we have that number, we will comply and expect the Appellate Division to grant us the right to do so,” he said in an email, adding, “It was always my goal to satisfy our requirements without any high density residential development and that remains my goal.”

Kranjac, a Republican, has called the state’s affordable housing laws “wrong and unconstitutional” and “a socialist scheme.”

In her decision, Farrington said the borough has made no efforts to comply with affordable-housing requirements and noted that it has not built a single affordable unit in more than four decades.