Tag Archive: COAH

State won’t extend affordable housing deadline

You’re going to see alot of towns scrambling to meet these deadlines after the head of the N.J. Department of Community Affairs said that the state’s Council on Affordable Housing will not grant an extension to the December 31st deadline for towns to submit their plans to provide affordable housing:

“We have given serious thought and consideration to your request but have determined that an across-the-board extension of the deadline would not be consistent with COAH’s statutory obligations under the Fair Housing Act,” Doria said in the letter. “As we have stated, COAH is committed to continuing to work cooperatively with municipal officials in the planning process, and that cooperation certainly will continue as we move forward.”

In a letter to municipal officials, Dressel notified the towns the request has been denied despite the backing of state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset), Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) and Assemblyman Gerald Green (D-Union).

“The commissioner’s decision means that municipalities will need to file revised third-round plans by December 31 or face ‘builders’ remedy’ lawsuits,” Dressel said. The so-called “builder’s remedy” allows dense, market-value developments in exchange for providing a smaller number of affordable units.

I don’t know that some of these towns would ever be happy with a deadline to meet for affordable housing. There is opposition to the fact that we have an affordable housing mandate and no matter when the deadline comes, that opposition will be voiced.

The lack of an extension doesn’t settle the matter by a long shot.  There are legitimate questions that have been raised.  Hank Kalet recently discussed this issue. Just yesterday, Senator Lesniak sent out a release talking about his bill to “fix the faults in the current COAH guidelines.

“I have proposed a bill (S 2485) which would fix the faults in the current COAH guidelines that are stifling job growth and economic development in New Jersey. The bill would suspend the 2.5% development fee strangling our economic recovery as well as direct the State Housing Commission to recommend sound planning and economic principles sorely lacking in the current COAH mandates and regulations.”

A quick looks shows 44 bills waiting for their time to be heard in the legislature regarding affordable housing. There will be plenty more discussion and debate going forward, but maybe they should wait until after the guidelines go into effect to fix them.  On top of that, the deadline says municipalities have to submit a plan.  If the guidelines and rules are “fixed” down the road, those plans could be modified accordingly.  No one is saying they have to put shovels in the ground on January 1.

COAH eases rules with amendments

Trying to find a happy medium for everyone from environmentalists, to builders and municipalities, the Council on Affordable Housing adopted some new rules and amendments yesterday in an attempt to ease the burden:

Under the rules, one-fifth of new development would be set aside as affordable housing.

The amendments approved by COAH yesterday would relax the one-in-five requirement under certain circumstances, taking into account the amount of environmentally sensitive land and vacant land within municipalities.

Still, COAH and the Highlands Council have yet to reach a formal agreement about how to reconcile their mandates, with the council dedicated to restraining development and COAH devoted to ensuring that every municipality build its share of affordable housing.

The Council also took aim at another regulation that has come under scrutiny:

The Council on Affordable Housing proposed an exemption for homeowners rebuilding their homes due to fires, floods or natural disasters. The change is a response to outrage over regulations approved June 2 that consider a burned-down home a demolition that, if rebuilt, would trigger a fee paid to the agency.

These are just the latest steps in what is a very long process.  We still have to see what happens when it goes through the courts.  Stay tuned.

The Highlands Act vs. Affordable Housing Mandates

It’s been classified as “Smart Growth vs. Environmental Planners”,  regarding the new Affordable Housing Law and the effects it has on the Highlands Master Plan requirements.  In this corner we have Smarth Growth and Regional Planning Groups:

NJFuture, the Regional Plan Association and SmarthGrowthNJ have written to Corzine, urging him not to veto the minutes of the July 17 meeting where the Highlands Council adopted its regional master plan, a blueprint for the region’s future development and preservation of the region.

“The sooner the Highlands Council is allowed to begin implementation of the RMP, the sooner we will find the quirks and wrinkles that need to be ironed out, the sooner we can actually get to work on the preservation and regeneration of the region,” the letter says.

And in the opposing corner, we have environmental groups:

Jeff Tittel, director of the state’s Sierra Club, dismissed the group’s letter as a plea from “lobbyists for massive sprawl.

“Their organizations have supported just about every law and regulation that favors paving over New Jersey,” Tittel said. “Our scientists and engineers looked at the Highlands Act and came up with 68 pages of constructive criticism, based on hard work and science. These groups, however, offered nothing. … It’s outrageous that now they are weighing in on the issue.”

The Governor has up to 30 days to act on the master plan report.  While both sides have taken to the media, it’s pretty clear that the issue will end up in court.  This is what a spokewoman for COAH had to say recently:

Right now, we’re confused, Sceusi said. “It just gives a bad impression the state doesn’t seem to know how to reconcile these things … The bottom line is going to be much more litigation, many more years of fighting … and very few affordable houses, unfortunately.

The question is, what will towns do while the process plays itself out with no one appearing to have any answers?

Affordable Housing in New Jersey: More of our taxes wasted…

It is being reported in various media outlets the Meadowlands Commission will be assisting Communities in the Meadowlands with addressing the Council on Affordable Housing’s new rules which went into effect on June 2nd of this year as well as the New Affordable Housing Legislation which was signed by Governor Jon Corzine on July 18, 2008.

“To help assist municipalities with new regulations, the Meadowlands Commission has created an affordable housing task force, which will include local officials and members of the public to assist in the process. Additionally, the commission has set aside up to $45,000 for each Meadowlands municipality to assist in creating a plan for affordable housing in their borough.”

“What we’re trying to do here is determine what the obligation is and where to put (affordable housing), very specifically to good planning principles,” said Robert Ceberio, the Meadowlands commission’s executive director. “Planning principles mean close to rail lines, close to bus lines and existing infrastructure.”

How is it fair the Meadowlands commission can give away $45,000 of our tax dollars to towns located in their region to help them plan and evaluate the impact of these new rules and regulations and other suburban towns do not have the same access to these funds?  

In my opinion this is just another example of how unjust and unfair these new rules and regulations are to the suburban taxpayers of New Jersey. This is also shows how costly these new rules and regulations are and will be to the taxpayers of New Jersey. Finally it is also demonstrates more waste of our tax dollars in Trenton.

Hopefully everyone is as outraged as I am about this latest development in the fight against COAH and Affordable Housing Legislation in New Jersey.

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A Suburban Taxpayers view of A-500: FACT VS. FICTION?

Below I have taken the New Jersey Assembly Democrats “Facts” which I consider Fiction and added what I consider to the be the real Facts for the suburban taxpayers of New Jersey.

Fact: A-500 will add a huge financial burden to the middle class taxpayers of New Jersey and works hand in hand with COAH’s third round rules to add additional costs to an already unfair and unbalanced affordable housing system in New Jersey.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “COAH’s revised third-round regulations are entirely separate from A-500 and were not voted on by the Legislature. COAH’s latest rules increased the affordable housing ratios from one affordable unit for every eight market-rate units to one affordable unit for every four market-rate units for residential construction and from one affordable unit for every 25 jobs created to one affordable unit for every 16 jobs created for nonresidential construction. These ratios were adopted by COAH in early June 2008 and are unrelated to A-500.”

Fact: A-500 will add additional bureaucracy through a new State Agency called the State Housing Commission which will then administer the new affordable housing trust fund which will acquire its funding through a 2.5% tax on New Jersey Business development. According to many experts this new tax on New Jersey business will not be enough to cover new affordable housing costs which will then burden already financially stressed suburban communities to make up the difference. As a result A-500 adds unfair and unneeded taxes all while growing the size of State Government.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 will make development costs more manageable and predictable than the current COAH framework. Currently, developer fees are negotiated on a town-by-town basis, and can add as much as 10 percent to the cost of a project. Such fees threaten to impede economic development across the state. That is why A-500 implements a flat, statewide 2.5 percent fee. According to the Office of Legislative Services, this fee is expected to generate approximately $164 million annually.”

Fact: Through this new legislation the New Jersey Democrats have pandered to the Home Builders of New Jersey, Local Trade Unions, and other special interest groups all at great cost to the middle class suburban tax payers of New Jersey. Any new fees and estimates which are used to calculate a towns “Fair Share” and “Cost” is unrealistic and the numbers used have no merit and leave local municipalities with no option other then costly litigation at this time to fight this unjust legislation.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “Municipalities have a multitude of options at their disposal to meet their affordable housing obligations, many of which cost a town little or no money. By offering density bonuses and increased set asides, towns can make it possible for private developers to completely subsidize the cost of constructing significant numbers of affordable housing units. Municipalities also can extend expiring affordability controls on already existing affordable housing, at little or no cost. Moreover, COAH offers a package of bonus credits to towns for a variety of housing units, including previously constructed projects. It is estimated that roughly $150 million derived from developer fees sits idle in municipal affordable housing trust funds statewide. Towns can use this money to “buy down” for-sale, market rate units – a process that can cost as little as $20,000 per unit, substantially less than the cost of constructing an entirely new home. Accessory apartments – such as those over a garage or in the ground-floor of a house – also count toward a town’s COAH obligation and can cost as little as $20,000 per unit, too.”

Fact: The new A-500 legislation goes against years of smart growth and planning by suburban municipalities in which farm and open space preservation have been achieved.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 recognizes that certain regions of the state may not be right for high-density development. Under A-500, municipalities located in the Highlands, Pinelands, Meadowlands, and Fort Monmouth and Atlantic City areas will be able to coordinate to provide affordable housing based upon regional concerns. This will allow the proper balance to be struck with regard to environmental considerations and accessibility to public transportation.”

Fact: The A-500 legislation does way with Regional Contribution Agreements which have allowed suburban municipalities to achieve smart growth and allow for open space preservation all while at the same time sending affordable housing dollars to where they are needed. By sending affordable housing dollars to the urban areas of New Jersey where people with affordable housing would have access to mass transportation and access to jobs in areas served by mass transportation.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 will codify COAH’s vacant land adjustment, which allows towns with a lack of available, developable land to have their affordable housing obligations lowered. COAH regulations currently allow towns to apply for a vacant land adjustment. Memorializing the vacant land adjustment in state law will ensure this tool will continue to assist towns in complying with their obligations. COAH also offers towns the option of applying for durational adjustments, which temporarily absolve towns of affordable housing obligations based on insufficient water and sewer until such infrastructure becomes available.”

Fact: A-500 was ONLY supported by the Democratic Party of New Jersey and their political supporters, specifically Trade Unions, Builders, lobbyists and Democratic Party operatives all who will all have personal financial gain through this legislation.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 was actively supported by a diverse coalition of mayors, realtors and developers, building and construction trade unions, faith-based organizations, housing advocates, environmentalists, planners, and the business community. All of these groups realized the importance of policy that reinforces the constitutional responsibility of towns to comply with their affordable housing obligations. Equally as important, these stakeholders realized the benefit sound housing policy could have for growing the state’s economy and creating good jobs.”

Fact: A-500 in combination with the new COAH third round rules place impossible to obtain affordable housing goals on the suburban municipalities of New Jersey. Further the Democratic Leadership in New Jersey intends to fast track all obligations to be settled by December 31, 2008 in an effort to force the suburban municipalities of New Jersey to comply.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 recognizes that many municipalities have been assigned unrealistic affordable housing obligations under COAH’s revised third round rules. That is why the codification of the vacant land adjustment is essential to giving COAH and municipalities the tools they need to manage the impact of the revised third-round rules. ”

Fact: A-500 and COAH’s third round rules go against all smart growth plans which the State of New Jersey has developed to this point in time.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “DCA Commissioner Doria has launched an important effort to revise the State Plan. One of the primary goals of the State Plan is to reconcile differences and conflicts in DCA and DEP regulations, particularly as they relate to the construction of housing and waste-water rules. A draft plan is expected to be unveiled in September, with six public hearings to be held throughout October and November, and final adoption by the State Planning Commission this December. ”

Fact: A-500 is a mandate from the Democratic party of New Jersey which will not be changed unless challenged through the court systems at great cost to the taxpayers first from the cost to their suburban municipalities and then as a double whammy then these same suburban taxpayers are forced to foot the states legal bills.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “The administration and Assembly and Senate leadership will hold a series of meetings over the coming months with key stakeholders to receive input on round-three concerns. Together, we will address concerns without comprising the constitutional obligation that every town has to provide affordable housing.”

(Fiction Source: New Jersey Assembly Democrats New Release from,