Mironov: COAH ruling offers opportunity to advance affordable housing

TRENTON – The president of the N.J. League of Municipalities sees today’s state Supreme Court ruling regarding affordable housing as an opportunity to provide what this state needs.

“The prior regulations were quite complicated, unreasonable, and in some ways irrational and unachieveable,’’ said League President and East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov.

What Mironov hopes is that the parties involved in this process will cooperate to further the cause of affordable housing in what is one of the country’s most expensive states in which to live. The League was one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Earlier today, housing advocates cheered the ruling as a victory for residents in need of places in which they can afford to live.

The League had found the so-called third round of affordable housing regulations promulgated during the Corzine administration “highly objectionable and problematic.”

The concept of growth share, in which a town didn’t have to provide affordable housing until there was new development, also presented concerns, advocates said.

“Our hope,’’ Mironov said, “is that the decision will serve as an opportunity to explore and craft new housing policy for New Jersey.”

In some ways, this years-long battle pitted wealthier towns against not-as-wealthy municipalities. In light of that and in the wake of today’s ruling, Mironov said that “I hope people can put aside their rigidness and ideology and try to put something together that’s going to work.”

She said parties already have spent years in court and spent lots of money when more time and effort could have been spent actually building affordable housing.

The court endorsed a lower court’s five-month deadline for putting a system in place. The matters are complex, Mironov said, and the League still is reviewing the decision that runs over 80 pages. “We have not had an opportunity yet to engage with the administration and other important partners on this subject,’’ Mironov said.

The administration had not issued a reaction as of late afternoon.

Lawmakers had begun to weigh in.

Sen. Christopher Bateman, (R-16), Somerville, called the “third round’’ housing mandates “a failed experiment.”

“Today’s ruling reinforces the need for meaningful affordable housing reform that focuses on needs and results rather than ideology. Rather than simply now enforcing the state’s earlier, equally failed housing mandates, we need to take a sensible approach that works for all communities,” he said in a release.

And Assemblyman Scott Rumana, (R-40), Wayne, ripped the decision.

“The Supreme Court has once again issued an irrational ruling with respect to housing development throughout our state. I am disappointed by the court’s decision which will place municipalities in legal limbo,” he said.

In the aftermath of the court’s initial Mt. Laurel ruling over 30 years ago, municipalities have suffered through massive over-development and related costs. I have spent the last 20 years representing citizens in various elected capacities with a great focus on fighting against the absurd Mt. Laurel doctrine.

“By ruling against the ‘growth share’ concept, the court has once again turned over the destinies of every municipality to the bureaucrats of the Council on Affordable Housing; exposing municipalities to ever more and massive high-density residential over-development.” Mironov: COAH ruling offers opportunity to advance affordable housing