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CHERRY HILL, NJ–Developer Realen Properties’ presentation of its plans to redevelop the site occupied by the defunct Garden State Park racetrack (see earlier stories) was barely over when the project was hit with its first lawsuit. The suit, filed in Superior Court in Camden, doesn’t necessarily aim to derail the project. The issue is low- to moderate-income housing.

Fair Share Housing of Cherry Hill, an advocacy group, wants so-called affordable housing included among the 1,500-unit residential component of Realen’s mixed-use project. Under the Mount Laurel decisions issued by the New Jersey Supreme Court and subsequently backed by state legislation, communities are required to provide a certain number of affordable housing units.

Cherry Hill officials insist that they’ve exceeded their state-mandated requirement of 758 such units; Fair Share Housing attorney Kevin Walsh disagrees. In this case, the suit has been filed against Cherry Hill Township itself, which has accepted a “housing impact fee” of $4.7 million from Realen to relieve the developer of any affordable housing obligation.

Officials of Berwyn, PA-based Realen have said that the project’s housing will be in the $125,000 to $210,000 range. Superior Court hearings on the suit are pending.

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