Governor Christopher Christie today signed an executive order essentially freezing the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and creating an advisory panel chaired by former state Sen. Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan) to issue recommendations about its future – drawing applause from COAH opponents and the promise court challenge by an affordable housing advocacy group.
“Governor Christie promised to gut COAH and he has inserted the knife,”said Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Wayne). “Municipalities no longer have to worry about bureaucrats in Trenton inflicting impossible quotas that only result in higher property taxes without any more housing opportunity.”
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), a prime sponsor of legislation that seeks to do away with COAH in favor of an alternate means of towns meeting their affordable housing quotas, said that he was “encouraged” that the order freezes COAH.
“COAH won’t be able to do any more damage to New Jersey’s economic well-being,” he said. “Affordable housing development and job growth will once again be allowed to take place without the agency’s cumbersome and costly rules and regulations.”
But Fair Share Housing Center Associate Director Kevin Walsh called the executive order illegal and said that it would bring progress in the construction of affordable housing to a “grinding halt,” despite the order’s exception for shovel ready projects.
Walsh said his group would file a request for review of the executive order with the Appellate Division.
“Governors execute laws; they are not permitted to supplant the legislature. Governors may not issue edicts that take over the role of independent state agencies,” said Walsh. “This is as clear a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers as it gets.”