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September 14, 2009
 
Re:       I.  State Planning Commission, Affordable Housing
            II.  Sample Resolution for Legislative Action on the Eastampton COAH Decision
           
Dear Mayor:

I. State Planning Commission, Affordable Housing

Many municipalities have contacted the League regarding data provided to the State Planning Commission as part of the development of the new State Plan.  This letter is intended to provide a brief overview of the status of this very important data and its relevance not just to the development of the State Plan but also COAH and housing policy.

On March 25th a presentation was made by Dr. Robert Burchell of The Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University to the State Planning Commission.  He discussed projections of population, housing and employment related to the promulgation of the new State Plan. Dr. Burchell provided a brief overview of his preliminary findings via a PowerPoint presentation.  This presentation is available online at: www.njslom.com/assessment-3-25-state-plan.pdf

The data was to be provided by June, so as to be part of the public hearing process for the new State Plan.   Despite this, the delivery of the data was delayed and, to date is still not available to the public. An article that ran in the Gannet newspapers, summarizing these events, is still available online at: www.holmdelvoice.com/2009/04/presentation-casts-doubt-of-coah.html

In late August, the League filed an OPRA request with the Office of Smart Growth (OSG), a division of the Department of Community Affairs, requesting this data.    The agency denied the request, claiming that the data was too preliminary for consideration and that it was consultative and deliberative, and thus not a public record for the purposes of OPRA. OSG’s response to the League is online at: www.njslom.com/OSG-Response-burchell-data-september-2009.pdf

We note, however, that OSG’s letter acknowledges, at least implicitly, that it is now in possession of this data.

The importance of this data cannot be overstated. Not only is it critical to the public process required as part of the development of a new State Plan, it is the first analysis of population and job growth that reflects the impact of the recession. The results, based on the preliminary information available in the PowerPoint, directly contradict the projections provided by the Council on Affordable (COAH) as part of its 3rd round regulations.  This further supports the objections raised by the League and over 250 municipalities who challenged the COAH regulations.

The fact that this data is still not public, six months after the presentation to the State Planning Commission, is unacceptable.  We ask that you bring this to the attention of your State Legislators, and ask them to call on the OSG to release this data to the public immediately.

II. Sample Resolution for Legislative Action on the Eastampton COAH Decision

On August 24, 2009 in the case of Homes of Hope v. Township of Eastampton an Appellate Division panel affirmed a lower court ruling that a developer can still argue affordable housing is “inherently beneficial” and compel a municipality to accept more than its fair share of regional need, even if the municipality has satisfied its affordable housing obligations.  The concurring opinion stated that the Legislature may need to act to correct the apparent conflict between the concept of “inherently beneficial uses” under the Municipal Land Use Law and the Fair Housing Act.  We urge each municipality to adopt the below resolution calling upon the State Legislature to address the inequity of the court decision.

Questions on this letter can be directed to Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com or at (609) 695-3481 x120.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

Resolution Calling Upon the State Legislature to Address the Inequity in the Court Decision of Homes of Hope v. Township of Eastampton

 

WHEREAS, on Monday, August 24, 2009, an Appellate Division panel in the case of Homes of Hope v. Township of Eastampton affirmed a lower court ruling that a developer can still argue affordable housing is "inherently beneficial”, and compel a municipality to accept more than its fair share of regional need, even if the municipality has satisfied its regional need; and

WHEREAS, this action was brought against Eastampton even though the Township had met and exceeded its affordable housing obligations; and

WHEREAS, in a concurring opinion it was stated that the Legislature may need to act to correct the apparent conflict between the concept of “inherently beneficial uses” under the Municipal Land Use Law and the Fair Housing Act;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by (insert governing body) of (insert the name of municipality) , that the State Legislature should immediately pass legislation to correct the Eastampton decision by providing that no municipality may be compelled through variance or otherwise to provide more than its fair share of affordable housing;  and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be forward to (insert State Senator, Assembly representatives),  the President of the State Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the Governor of the State of New Jersey.

 

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