The New Jersey Supreme Court has just rendered a long awaited decision concerning affordable housing in New Jersey. The decision recognizes that the Council On Affordable Housing (COAH) has abdicated its responsibility to approve housing plans that provide a realistic housing opportunity for low and moderate income families. The Supreme Court has authorized the trial courts to determine if a municipality is compliant with its housing obligation.
If the municipality is not found to be compliant, they may be subject to a builder’s remedy lawsuit which results in court ordered development. If the municipality is in compliance, a period of immunity from such suits may be granted. The Supreme Court’s decision will likely bring on a wave of litigation as municipalities file lawsuits seeking a judicial declaration that they are in compliance with their obligation to provide affordable housing. Municipalities that fail to file such an action will become targets for a builder’s right lawsuit.
Although the goal of the decision is to ensure realistic housing opportunities for low and moderate income families and to stimulate economic growth, it puts local building decisions in the hands of Superior Court Judges and removes local control of town development.
The complete decision can be found here.