TRENTON – The justices of the New Jersey State Supreme Court will today hear arguments from both a consortium of municipalities and an activist group to decide a controversial case regarding the obligations of the towns to build out additional units of affordable housing.
According to the New Jersey Judiciary website, the specific question that will be addressed with today’s proceedings will be how municipalities will be required to deal with affordable housing obligations for the so-called “gap period” from 1999 to 2015 in which the now-defunct state agency responsible for setting affordable housing targets, COAH, failed to adopt regulations setting requirements for how many units of affordable housing the municipalities were required to build.
The municipalities involved in the suit, many of which were from Ocean County, formed a consortium to represent their interests in the suit, while the The Fair Share Housing Center, which entered into settlement agreements with towns including Point Pleasant and Toms River over the same issue, first brought suit alleging that the municipalities were not meeting their affordable housing obligations.
“Eliminating all housing needs from 1999-2015 would play into the hands of towns that dragged their feet and practiced exclusion by allowing towns a free pass for a 16-year period,” wrote Kevin Walsh, the group’s executive director in a blog post.
“This would allow many towns to drastically reduce the amount of housing they produce and lock in New Jersey’s segregated housing landscape for the next generation. It would also send the wrong message to towns that did a good job by treating them the same as exclusionary towns.”
If the court sides with the affordable housing group, the municipalities could be required to build out a substantial amount of affordable housing units to make up for the 15-year period.
The legal battle first began in Ocean County Superior Court, where Judge Mark Troncone handed down a ruling that would have paved the way for additional units of affordable housing. The Appellate Division of the Superior Court would later side with the municipalities in a ruling from this summer, which is now under review at today’s hearing.
A live stream of the court’s proceedings is available at this link, with the hearing kicking off at 10 AM.
Below is a copy of the judgment from the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court that will be under review.