Council on Local Mandates Upholds COAH
Rules COAH is Not Unfunded Mandate

TRENTON - The Council on Local Mandates today ruled that the Council on Affordable Housing's (COAH) third round rules do not represent an unfunded mandate. Additionally, the Council found that there is a constitutional obligation to create a realistic opportunity for affordable housing.

"From the beginning we have stressed that the COAH process is completely voluntary and does not and has not imposed any mandates on New Jersey municipalities," said Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Joseph Doria. "The Council's ruling today is another in a string of rulings, including those by the Courts last fall, which uphold the process by which COAH formulated its third round rules and the need for affordable housing in New Jersey. Now, instead of squandering taxpayer funds defending a repeatedly validated process, hopefully we can move forward with the production of much needed affordable housing."

The Council's ruling was the result of an appeal submitted to them on August 15, 2008 by Medford Township, stating that COAH's third round rules were an unfunded mandate. Mount Laurel Township and the League of Municipalities also filed briefs in support. The Office of Public Advocate and Fair Share Housing Center filed in support of COAH.

Today, the Council heard oral argument from all parties, and within less than an hour affirmed that COAH's third round rules do not represent an unfunded mandate. This is the latest decision to validate the open and transparent process that COAH developed as a result of a January 2007 Appellate Court ruling that overturned COAH's first set of third round regulations. In September, 2008, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court denied a request that a special master be charged with facilitating affordable housing in New Jersey. The Appellate Court also denied a request to permit builders' remedy litigation to continue against municipalities even while COAH's rules were pending.

COAH, an affiliate of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, facilitates the production of sound, affordable housing for low and moderate income households by providing the most effective process to municipalities, housing providers, nonprofit and for profit developers to address a constitutional obligation within the framework of sound, comprehensive planning.

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