TRENTON – Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green introduced legislation on Monday that would create a more sensible approach to replace the state’s antiquated COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) laws that have hampered development throughout New Jersey for roughly the last two decades.
“This is a reasonable compromise that ensures that towns will have a diverse housing stock that takes into account the needs of not only low and moderate income residents, but working class residents too,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This legislation represents months of lengthy discussions with interested stakeholders, the Senate and the administration. Unfortunately, the Governor’s rhetoric today threatens to undermine the productive and thoughtful approach we have taken.”
First and foremost, the legislation would abolish the Council on Affordable Housing, a move that is supported by the Assembly, the Senate and the Governor’s Office.
Chief among the bill’s other components is a 10 percent affordable housing requirement for all new residential developments in any municipality. However, exempt from this requirement are any municipalities where 50 percent or more of the student population is receiving a free or reduced lunch. Municipalities where either 12 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable or 25-50 percent of the student population is receiving a free or reduced lunch could impose a 10 percent set aside at their discretion.
The legislation stands apart from the state’s existing COAH laws because it removes this requirement for commercial development and links it only with residential developments.
In addition to the 10 percent set aside, municipalities that are required to comply with the new development standards would have to zone 20 percent of its vacant, developable land for higher density, workforce housing – essentially requiring the development of four, stand alone units on every acre or eight units if they are attached.
Municipalities, including those in urban areas, would also have to submit rehabilitation plans for their existing sub-standard housing stock.
The legislation would also gradually phase in the 2.5 percent developer’s fee over the next five years. This standard fee was created through legislation in 2008 and later placed under a moratorium, which expired in July.
“With legislation this massive in scope, there are obviously going to be parties that will never be satisfied with every component of it,” added Green. “I think this bill is a reasonable alternative that takes into account the needs of everyone in this state, regardless of socio-economic status, and provides a means to stimulate development, both commercial and residential.”
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