COAH bill sparks debate

TRENTON – A hearing on S1, which installs affordable housing requirement reforms and eliminates the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), sparked a floor debate, Monday.

Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Plainfield), who sponsored the Assembly version, stood up for the bill.

“Today, we’re going to eliminate COAH,” Green said. “The most important issue that the governor wanted us to address in this bill we have done that.”

“(It) also reflects how the people of New Jersey feel about this issue,” Green said. “We’re going to build houses…We’re going to put people back to work.”

But several Republican lawmakers disagreed.

Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Wayne) kicked off the debate with a lengthy Q-and-A with Green over particulars of the reform.

“There are some good provisions in the bill,” Rumana said, but, “We’re just not getting it right all over again.”

Amy Handlin (R-Middletown), then took the floor telling Green, “Mayors all over the state…are extremely anxious about how they are to meet the 2 percent tax cap.

“We are slapping them in the face,” she said, “with a tsunami of new housing stock.”

Assemblyman Gary Chiusano (R-Augusta) said, “It is taking money from some people to give to others.”

Belittling the nomenclature “affordable housing,” Chiusano said, “It makes everybody feel good.”

Green charged back: “Are you saying to me today that we should eliminate affordable housing?”

Chiusano said, “I say we should eliminate subsidized housing.

Green repeated the question.

“With all due respect,” Chiusano said, “This is not affordable housing, its subsidizing.”

Vincent Polistina (R-Egg Harbor) moved to table the measure, but was overruled by the majority, 43-32.

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) then accused the legislature of “micromanaging affordable housing” and raising the costs to already overburdened municipalities.

“We need building, but we need a free market,” Bramnick said. “This will cost millions and millions of dollars…Quotas cannot be in this legislation. I am convinced the governor will not sign quotas, and I am convinced it is not in the best interest of the state.”

The measure passed on party lines, 43-32.


COAH bill sparks debate