Court overturns COAH on exclusion policy

TRENTON – The state Appellate Division of Superior Court today overturned a Council on Affordable Housing decision that allowed municipalities to pass zoning ordinances excluding up to one-third of all families in the state.

The Fair Share Housing Center, a nonprofit that encourages affordable housing, hailed the decision, saying that families of the state’s “waitresses, school bus drivers, and nursing home aides” will have more opportunities to live in towns that previously adopted exclusionary zoning policies that prevented them from living in towns where they worked.”

“Gov. Christie’s parents moved from Newark to Livingston at the age of 5 to seek a better life for their children. He has said that he wouldn’t have become governor without having made that move,  yet Gov. Christie’s administration to date has shut the door on other families looking for the same opportunities the Governor had,” Fair Share Housing Center attorney Adam M. Gordon said. “Today’s court decision requires the Christie Administration to reverse its anti-family policies, a change that will help create new jobs in building and rehabilitating homes.”

The decision reverses a policy instituted by COAH under the Corzine Administration and continued and defended in court by the Christie Administration.

When COAH approved Blairstown Township’s housing plan in July 2009, it did so despite the fact that Blairstown had not included opportunities for families working at entry-level jobs. The agency had previously required municipalities to adopt zoning policies that included those families, but backed down from enforcing that requirement in response to pressure from wealthy municipalities, Fair Share said.

“Today’s decision is good for families,” Gordon said. “Parents should be able to live in towns where they work and send their kids to good schools. The dreams of New Jersey’s children – and the jobs that come from helping fulfill those dreams – should not be dashed because they are excluded by wealthy towns’ zoning ordinances.”

The Court’s decision is available here. Court overturns COAH on exclusion policy