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July 29, 2014

Re: Weekly Summer Update
I. COAH Comments due by Friday
II. Levy Cap Exemption for Flood Insurance Premiums

Dear Mayor:

I.  COAH Comments due by Friday

The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) is accepting comments on its proposed regulations through Friday, August 1.      COAH formally proposed the regulations with its publication in the June 2 New Jersey Register, commencing a 60-day comment period which ends on Friday.      To comply with the New Jersey Supreme Court order, it is anticipated that COAH will adopt regulations at its October meeting and the regulations will be effective upon publication in the November 17 Register.

The League will be filing its comments on the regulations by Friday and will post them on our website.  We urge all municipalities to also submit comments by Friday and to please provide us with a copy.  

In a related development, late last month the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) filed a motion in aid of litigant’s rights and asked the Court to invalidate the rule proposal.  Specifically, FSHC claimed that:

  1. COAH manipulated the data to predict the regional need so as to radically reduce that need;
  2. COAH added an inappropriate factor to allocate the regional need that favored municipalities that had been exclusionary; and
  3. FSHC claimed that COAH had an obligation to establish presumptive densities and set-asides for inclusionary development as a means of addressing the need and that its proposed regulations violate that obligation too.

Based upon these purported violations, FSHC asks the Court to order COAH to comply with FSHC’s interpretation of the Court’s 2013 decision and to devise a process to ensure that result.
In the alternative, FSHC asked the Court to allow developers to bring builder’s remedy suits against the 314 municipalities in COAH’s jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis so that trial judges can determine the obligations with which municipalities must comply.

The League filed its opposition to the FSHC motion.  Without commenting on the regulations themselves, the League argued that:

  1. The Court should allow COAH to complete the rulemaking process;
  2. That under no circumstance should the Court expose to builder’s remedy litigation any of the 314 municipalities that voluntarily sought to comply with its affordable housing obligation by adopting an affordable housing plan and filing that plan with COAH; and
  3. The Court only required COAH to propose rules that allocate the prospective need in a manner “similar” to those COAH used in the first and second housing cycles. COAH did not prohibit COAH from otherwise promulgating regulations authorized by the Fair Housing Act.

FSHC requested oral argument but no action has been taken by the Court.
Contact: Mike Cerra, 609-695-3481x120 or mcerra@njslom.com.

II. Tax Levy Cap Exemption for Flood Insurance Premiums

A bill, S-762/A-3328, which adds to the property tax levy cap exclusions increases in flood insurance premiums is awaiting consideration by Governor Christie.  The bill unanimously passed the Senate and passed the Assembly by a vote of 65-11-2 on June 23.  The Governor has just over a week to take action on the bill.

S-762/A-3328 would permit municipalities to exclude from the 2% Property Tax Cap Levy certain increases in flood insurance premiums in the first year following changes to a federal flood insurance map.  For municipalities that currently have flood insurance any increases in their flood insurance premium in excess of 2% of the previous year’s flood insurance premium in the initial year following changes to the federal flood insurance maps would be exempt from the 2% levy cap.  For municipalities that did not previously have flood insurance their entire initial cost for the flood insurance premiums in the initial year following changes to federal flood insurance maps would be exempt from the 2% levy cap.   All municipalities will be able to exclude flood insurance premium increases in excess of 2% in the second, third and fourth years following changes to the federal flood insurance maps.  The property levy cap exclusion will not apply after the fourth year following a change to the flood insurance maps.

S-732/A-3328 is a necessary tool to assist municipalities in addressing the anticipated flood insurance cost due not only the new flood insurance maps but the new requirements under the amended Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.  Without this tool local governments could be forced to further reduce or even eliminate crucial service, personnel and long overdue infrastructure improvement projects to fund their flood insurance policies.

Please contact Governor Christie’s office and urge him to sign S-762/A-3328 into law.

Contact:  Lori Buckelew, 609-695-3481 x112 or lbuckelew@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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