Guadagno’s first bill signing freezes developers’ affordable housing fees

CLIFTON – In her first official bill signing, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno eased the way for job creation, property development, and economic growth. It was right up her alley.

Guadagno (acting governor while Chris Christie is away) signed S2974, which extends a moratorium on 2.5 percent commercial developers’ fees and which returns fees paid since another moratorium ended last summer, if the municipalities have not used the funds for affordable housing.

Since the courts have struck down the most recent round of state affordable housing requirements, and since Gov. Chris Christie has abolished the Council on Affordable Housing and folded its responsibilities into the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), those developers’ fees were sitting stagnant for the most part, said bill sponsor Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, (D-29), of Newark.

Not only that, but development has also stalled. “2.5 percent of nothing is nothing,” Coutinho said.

DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa said the department has not tracked how much in fees the state’s municipalities have accumulated since last year, but said her office will be the “gatekeeper” for developers who ask municipalities for a refund.

The moratorium will last until July of 2013, and another bill sponsor on hand, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, (R-25), of Boonton, said by that time the affordable housing issue should be solved.

“The Legislature decided that the economy was getting so bad that we had to do something,” Guadagno said outside a back-road commercial building in Passaic County.

She said at least 30 projects in the pipeline across the state will now move forward due to this legislation, including the 220,000-square-foot expansion of the building in Clifton, run by telecommunications specialists, Telex.

Overall, the acting governor said, the 30 projects that benefit from this bill represent 10 million square feet of property, $1 billion in construction, 6,000 construction jobs, and 12,000 permanent jobs.

“Another arrow in our quiver of tools we are using in putting New Jerseyans back to work,” Guadagno said.

The facts are, she said, that jobs are being created through bipartisan efforts in Trenton: from a decrease of 17,000 private-sector jobs in 2009, the state had an increase of 5,200 jobs in 2010, and over 50,000 in the first six months of 2011.

Guadagno’s first bill signing freezes developers’ affordable housing fees