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Thursday, June 20, 2024

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West Cape May Wins Sixth Street Partners Appeal

 

By Jack Fichter

WEST CAPE MAY — The borough has emerged victorious from an appeal of a judge’s favorable decision on a builder’s remedy lawsuit from Sixth Street Partners, a developer that wanted to construct 70 town homes on a 5.8 acre property in the borough.
That request was later amended to a request to build 28 single-family homes with 12 affordable housing units.
One year ago, Sixth Street Partners appealed a decision from Superior Court Judge William E. Nugent who denied the developer’s request for a builder’s remedy lawsuit against West Cape May.
Nugent ruled the site was unsuitable for 70 units.
Mayor Pamela Kaithern told the Herald Nugent had a court-appointed master study the borough’s housing element of its master plan and fair share plan to make sure it was consistent with state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) regulations.
In September 2009, a compliance hearing was held to allow the public to comment on the borough’s affordable housing plans. The master found West Cape May’s plan consistent with COAH with some amendments.
In October, Nugent found the borough’s plan consistent, compliant with COAH, and providing a reasonable opportunity for affordable housing.
The judge offered a number of conditions and time frames for the borough to update which were completed in early December, said Kaithern.
Nugent issued his final judgment Jan. 12.
Kaithern said Sixth Street Partners has 45-days to appeal the entire lawsuit.
Nicholas Menas, attorney for Sixth Street Partners and principle Greg Garagozza did not return the Herald’s phone call for comment.
According to current zoning laws, Sixth Street Partners could build seven single-family homes on the property, said Kaithern.
“The reason they were denied the builder’s remedy (lawsuit) was their site was unsuitable,” she said. “It has critical wetlands buffers, it has grasslands, it has forest and it’s outside of the sewer service area.”
Without sewer service, each home would be required to be located on a 35,000 square foot lot to accommodate a septic tank.
West Cape May’s COAH obligation includes rehabilitating 11 housing units. The borough has received credit for three units. Five other units will be updated to meet construction codes leaving an obligation of three units for rehabilitation.
A new group home is being built on borough owned property near West Cape Elementary School to house persons with disabilities with a total of seven living units inside.
While COAH calculated West Cape May’s most recent (third round) obligation was zero, the borough estimated five affordable housing units would be needed to address future growth. The borough is seeking two homeowners to create accessory apartments through the conversion of an existing accessory structure on the same site, an addition to an existing home or accessory building or through new construction of a new accessory apartment on site.

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