N.J. Supreme Court says it will review decision on COAH Print Email

March 31, 2011
By Melinda Caliendo

The New Jersey Supreme Court announced Thursday it will review the appellate case that invalidated third-round Council on Affordable Housing regulations.

As part of its review, the court could consider the constitutionality of just the third-round regulations — which were supposed to be in effect after the second round ended in 1999, but have been thrown out two separate times — or could decide whether the doctrine itself, based off the so-called Mount Laurel decision of 1975 that established affordable-housing obligations, is constitutional.

“This is a hot-button political issue,” said Richard Hoff Jr., an attorney with Haddonfield-based Bisgaier Hoff LLC. “In this climate, the Supreme Court needs to step in and clarify the law. And that’s what I hope they will do. At least then, we’ll have some direction.”

Up until now, “the court has been a staunch defender of affordable housing,” Hoff said, pointing to a 2002 decision involving West Windsor and Toll Brothers that reinforced municipalities do not have the right to zone out low- to moderate-income residents.

There are plenty outside the development community watching this case, also.

“With our elected officials unable to resolve this matter, we are glad that the court has decided to step in,” said Arnold Cohen, policy coordinator for Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “We are hopeful that their decision will clarify the situation and put our state back on track to create the homes and jobs our residents need.”

E-mail Melinda Caliendo at [email protected]