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New affordable housing rules will lead to higher taxes, sprawl, critics say

Friday, January 20, 2017   (0 Comments)
Share | 01/20/17

A state Supreme Court ruling that could force tens of thousands more affordable housing units to be built in New Jersey has opponents and advocates at odds over how towns address the needs of low- and moderate-income residents that had been ignored for 16 years.

Criticizing a recent state Supreme Court decision on affordable housing as "court-ordered overdevelopment" and "social engineering," some lawmakers say it's time for them to step in to address New Jersey's housing shortage for low- and moderate-income residents while protecting taxpayers who would eventually foot the bill for the additional units.

While the number of additional units has not yet been calculated from that so-called gap period, some state lawmakers say they need to step in because meeting those new obligations will put an excessive financial burden on towns. 

"This decision only provides our towns with even more confusion about how this process should work," said Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-Somerset). "This is only going to cost them more time and money to determine exactly what their additional requirements are. We won't break this cycle until the legislature acts to bring on comprehensive affordable housing reform."

Opponents, including the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, contended those numbers were no longer relevant to present or future needs and therefore shouldn't be counted. Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Sussex) said that without clear rules on how the obligations are calculated, towns will continue spending money to litigate the issue.

"Towns will be forced to conduct expensive new studies and analyses as a result of (Wednesday's) ruling, and likely will end up in litigation once again," he said. "Property taxpayers will continue to pay the price for an activist court's repeated attempts to effectuate a flawed social policy."

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