Tag Archive: Appellate Division

Court overturns Christie’s attempt to expand executive power, reinstates COAH’s independent board

promoted by Rosi

Last Thursday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey invalidated Gov. Christie’s abolition of the Council on Affordable Housing, ruling that New Jersey’s State Constitution and statutes do not allow Gov. Christie to unilaterally abolish independent agencies.  

I’d previously outlined the case in a post here, shortly after oral argument on February 15.  As I mentioned in that post, if the court had held that the Governor in fact had the power to abolish the boards of independent agencies, “then every time a board member of an independent agency makes a decision, she will be afraid of being fired if she disagrees with the Governor, the exact opposite of the intent of such agencies. No independent agency really would be independent.” The Court agreed, finding that only the Legislature, not the Governor, has the power to reorganize independent agencies.

The Court’s reasoning, in the decision available here,  followed the conservative modes of legal reasoning that the Governor claims to believe in, following a careful statutory and constitutional reading. The Court relied on quotes from Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the proper separation of powers in the original meaning of the Constitution to reject Governor Christie’s argument that the constitution gave him unlimited power to change the structure of state government, stating that “While the framers of our Constitution intended to create a strong executive in the office of Governor (perhaps the strongest in the United States), they also recognized the need to insulate functions and agencies from executive control.”

More below…

New Jersey Supreme Court to Hear Housing Appeals

The New Jersey Supreme Court has decided to review the October 8, 2010 Appellate Division decision that invalidated the Council on Affordable Housing’s (COAH) flawed Third Round regulations.  The Court’s decision is in response to request filed by 13 municipalities and the New Jersey Leaque of Muncipalities that want the Court to relieve them of the obligation to provide zoning for starter homes for New Jersey’s working families.  The muncipalities have the support of the Christie Administration, which has called for allowing wealthy municipalities to build walls that exclude lower income New Jerseyans, seniors, and people with special needs.

In a brief filed with the Court, the Christie Administration supported policies that will allow towns to abuse their powers and exclude working people by prohibiting all housing from being built or only allowing large, expensive housing on large lots in the same towns where significant job growth is expected.

For over three decades, New Jersey towns have been required to allow homes for low-income working families, seniors and people with special needs and Fair Share Housing Center remains optimistic that the Supreme Court will again hold that municipal zoning may not be used to block the market for starter homes.  Zoning that allows for a fair share of affordable homes is right thing for our state and our economy.