Linden Drops Out Of COAH

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LINDEN – The City of Linden withdrew from the Council on Affordable Housing after a state stimulus act eliminated a fee that funded affordable housing projects mandated by New Jersey.

COAH was created to oversee affordable housing efforts required by the state Supreme Court under the Mount Laurel rulings. Participation in the organization is voluntary and most municipalities opt in because the organization shields them from fair housing lawsuits.

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A year ago, New Jersey began to require developers to pay fees to fund affordable housing. The New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 eliminated those fees, according to Michael Cerra, a legislative analyst for the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

Robin Lospinoso, housing consultant for Linden, said that COAH requested that Linden fund 400 units of affordable housing over 10 years.

Mayor Richard Gerbounka said the city is in favor of affordable housing, but doesn’t have the money or land to build the 400 or so units required under COAH guidelines.
“We feel it would be costly to the city of Linden,” Gerbounka said. “We don’t get any benefits. You have to build it. The state didn’t give us money for it.”

Lospinoso told city officials that without the developer fees that paid for affordable housing, the city no longer had a reason to participate in COAH. According to Lospinoso, Linden is already dense enough and zoned to avoid Mt. Laurel lawsuits, which have been common in suburban towns with large-lot zoning.

Linden’s city council passed a resolution to withdraw from the council on Aug. 18.


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