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July 11, 2016
Trenton, NJ

Corrected Copy

League Applauds Appellate Division Ruling

Today the Appellate Division issued a unanimous ruling which reversed a lower court’s misinterpretation of the Fair Housing Act that assigned a new and unrealistic affordable housing obligation on municipalities.  Specifically the Appellate panel wrote:

Applying the plain language of the FHA, the guidelines and principles established by In re N.J.A.C.,5:96 II and respecting the separation of powers doctrine, we conclude that the judge erroneously imposed a requirement that a municipality undertake a new, “separate and discrete” gap-period calculation-in addition to unmet prior round obligations, present, and prospective needs-to establish a municipality’s fair share affordable housing obligation.”  (See pages 30-31 of ruling.)

The so-called “gap” period does not result from any failures of local government.  This “gap issue” arises out of COAH’s inability to promulgate third round regulations from 1999 to the present or make any final determination as to state and regional housing need, as well as constant litigation by certain groups    The Fair Housing Act defines a municipal obligation to include present and prospective need, and when it has developed a plan to address both those needs, a town should be deemed compliant and allowed to proceed.   

League Executive Director Michael J. Darcy, CAE offered the following comment:

“The League supports the provision of affordable housing in a reasonable and rational manner and we applaud Barnegat Township for appealing the lower Court’s ruling.   The Appellate Division’s common-sense ruling upholds the legislative intent of the Fair Housing Act and will facilitate municipal compliance.   Further, it creates a rational path forward that we anticipate will end costly litigation and allow municipalities to move forward in meeting their community’s affordable housing needs. 

The ruling is posted online:  http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a3323-15.pdf

Contact: Michael Cerra, Assistant Executive Director at 609-695-3481 ext. 120 or mcerra@njslom.org

 

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