From the Courier Post:
Weeks after an appellate court shot down the state’s plan for municipalities to fulfill their court-ordered mandates for affordable housing, Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin announced Thursday an appeal of a portion of the ruling.
While the state is taking steps to comply with a six-month deadline for new rules, DCA’s appeal will ask the state Supreme Court to decide whether affordable units should be mandated by municipal ordinance or encouraged on an individual basis by allowing builders more units than zoning calls for. The appeal also asks for a stay on ordinances passed by more than 120 municipalities that have created zones requiring affordable housing in new developments.
At issue is a portion of the Jan. 25 appellate court decision that suggested developers be given financial incentive to build affordable units. The state, backed by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, wants to tie affordable obligations to new development, one affordable unit for every eight at market rate.
“This could result in an increase in property taxes and encourage sprawl,” Levin said of giving developers incentives. “. . . Changing the standard to require a municipality to grant developers additional financial incentives is simply wrong.”
Kevin D. Walsh, a lawyer with the Fair Share Housing Center, said if builders are allowed to build more units, building affordable housing becomes realistic.
“The more houses there are, the more affordable housing they can provide,” Walsh said.
Added Patrick J. O’Keefe, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Builders Association: “Where development is going to be a source of the opportunity, the projects have to be economically feasible, and the appellate division basically reiterated that.”