Levin appeals affordable housing ruling

From the Courier Post:

Portion of affordable housing plan appealed

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.”

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7 Responses to Levin appeals affordable housing ruling

  1. James Bednar says:

    From the Philly Inquirer:

    N.J. to contest decision on housing rules

    The state will fight parts of a January court ruling that invalidated rules telling towns what they must do to make housing available to low-income residents.

    The court said the rules were based on unsupported, outdated facts and gave the state six months to devise a new plan.

    Affordable-housing advocates, who argued that the rules gave towns the ability to discriminate against the poor and families with children, cheered the ruling.

    But Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin said yesterday that the state had asked the appellate court to reconsider one part of its decision and the state Supreme Court to review another part.

    “In a state as densely populated as New Jersey with such little land for development, each day that market-rate housing continues without affordable housing at its side is an irreparable loss,” Levin said.

    The Fair Housing Center, among the groups that sued the state over the rules, said it was pleased the state was not appealing the entire ruling, especially the part that requires it to devise new rules to promote construction of low-cost housing.

    Kevin D. Walsh, an attorney for the group, said it also wanted Gov. Corzine to appoint an intermediary, such as a retired judge, to oversee development of those rules.

    A 1975 state Supreme Court decision requires all New Jersey municipalities to provide housing for low- and moderate-income residents – a ruling praised by those who say it brings equal housing opportunities but bashed by those who contend it promotes development.

  2. metroplexual says:

    Crocodile Tears. I have met this woman and I know why she has the nickname of “Susan Bin Laden”. I believe the ruling was correct, the COAH rules discriminate against the class which it was created for: young families with children.

    The rules were clearly made to be palatable for municipalities. Up to half of the housing under current rules can be dedicated to age restricted units. If a town chooses to rezone to eliminate or reduce growth there is little or no obligation. The ruling clearly details that the class most in need is young families and that seniors (since when is that 55?) mostly have houses or assets that can go toward purchasing one.

  3. commanderbobnj says:

    I totally disagree with the basic 1975 supreme court decision to interfere with local building issues—–In fact, the court IMHO overstepped its constitutional bounds…It has no business in this issue nor in forcing local school boards to provide “free” pre-K when the NJ Constitution says ONLY grades one-through twelve …

    In 1975 when this ‘Mt. Laurel’court decision providing of low-cost housing was being debated in the State Senate and Assembly, an independent (not Repub.or democrat}…I can’t remember his name, but he was a man from Newark….Stood up and told his fellow elected leaders that if ‘we’ don’t stand-up to this dictating court we are going to regret it big time in the future. He said, as I remember: “..If they (the court) can ‘make law’, as WE should be doing-then what is OUR purpose in representing the citizens of our state —WE are letting them down!…”—- I ‘caught’ a few last minutes of his speach (on UHF TV !) by accident back then and wished that I had a copy of it to provide to you here !!….You may think and say: ” SO-WHAT ?!” But, a lot of what this so-called “supreme” court has ruled on through all these years (WOW, 35 YEARS AGO!) has added unnessary thousands on to our local taxes—-especially to the out-of-control school costs and has made New Jersey property taxes the highest in the Nation…—-That great LEADER from Newark was RIGHT—The assembly and senate in NOT doing their job to keep the courts in ‘check’and has ‘helped’ to run-up the costs of government so much that this has made New Jersey truly UNAFFORDABLE to conduct business and to live here….

  4. metroplexual says:


    The problem is that local zoning has distorted the housing market, and in The Mt. Laurel decision it called out when exclusionary zoning is discriminatory. Granted that is all debatable but in the case of every municipality zoning out young families, I say screw them and full speed ahead toward getting rid of local zoning decisions.

  5. commanderbobnj says:

    metroplexual: I see your point about young families, but you are not taking in account of the period of the 1970’s—-Housing was AFFORDABLE back then…..TRUE supply and demand—-It seems that when GOVERNMENT gets involved with TRYING to correct ONE problem – It seems to CREATE AT LEAST TWO PROBLEMS in its place…

    Hope to see some of you at the ‘shin-dig’ tonite..

  6. metroplexual says:

    Housing was affordable to the upwardly mobile, however the move from one to two acre zoning in Mt. Laurel was regarded as being exclusionary. Here in NW Jersey zoning has gone upto as much as 25 acres per unit without the highlands. Highland in many cases requires 88 acres. So just what is exclusionary any more?

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