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FROM 222 WEST STATE STREET
Bill Dressel, League Executive Director

 

Right Decision
                Wrong Reason.

Bill Dressel

 

On October 8, the Appellate Division struck down the 3rd round COAH regulations. The good news is that regulations that were burdensome to towns and taxpayers were struck down by the Court. The bad news is the Court, in doing so, also invalidated the “growth share” concept. Under a growth share methodology, a percentage of growth is set aside for affordable housing, instead of the bureaucratic, top down approach, historically employed by the agency.

In its October 8 decision, the Appellate Court did invite the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of the growth share concept. Specifically, the Court wrote,

It may be that the time has arrived for reconsideration of the part of Mount Laurel II that appears to militate against the use of any growth share methodology for determining a municipality’s affordable housing obligations. However, this court has no authority to undertake such a reconsideration; we are bound by the decision of our Supreme Court.

So, the League is asking the state’s highest court to consider growth share and a handful of other issues of interest to municipalities.

Why did we do this? Put simply, the Appellate Division directed COAH to develop new regulations similar to the “second round” methodology. But, there was a reason why growth share was adopted, and that was because of the shortcomings in COAH’s previous round methods. In 1985, we had no model to follow, but now we have a quarter century of experiences, and we should learn from the mistakes of the past.

Growth share offers the best alternative going forward, because it allows for affordable housing to be part of the planning process, instead of housing obligations driving the planning. It allows for economic balance, so that affordable housing becomes a natural, integrated part of the planning process.

We recognize the challenging road ahead of us. Courts have historically frowned upon the claims of municipalities on this issue, no matter how well documented or substantiated the arguments may be. Regardless, growth share offers the best alternative for municipalities, taxpayers and for low and moderate households in need of housing. Let’s just hope the State’s highest Court agrees.

 

Editorial from New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 87, Number 9, December 2010

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