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Lesniak Statement On COAH Appellate Court Decision

Says Governor Can’t Ignore Legislature and Constitution, Must Work Together to Comply with Affordable Housing Mandate

TRENTON – State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, the prime sponsor of legislation last session which would create a new mechanism by which New Jersey could comply with the affordable housing mandate under the Supreme Court’s Mount Laurel decisions, issued the following statement today regarding an appellate court’s decision to invalidate the Governor’s efforts to abolish COAH:

“Today’s court decision has made it clear – the Governor cannot ignore the Constitution, nor can he ignore the Legislature, in his efforts to comply with the Mount Laurel decisions mandating affordable housing in New Jersey.

“In order to develop a plan which will stand the test of court scrutiny, we have to work together to create an alternative to COAH that actually works. We cannot simply throw COAH out the window without first developing a mechanism which seriously addresses the shortage of affordable housing opportunities in New Jersey communities.

“The ‘Foreclosure to Affordable Housing Transformation Act’ – a bill I sponsored which is being considered by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today – will make it easier for municipalities to comply with the affordable housing mandate by transforming over 10,000 foreclosed properties into affordable homes.

“However, the ‘Foreclosure to Affordable Housing Transformation Act,’ while it’s a great bill to address the foreclosure crisis and stabilize neighborhoods, will not be sufficient to comply with our Constitution’s mandate that every municipality provide a reasonable opportunity for affordable housing within their borders. It will make it easier, however, for municipalities to comply with it.

“I will be reintroducing my legislation from last session so that we can abide by the Constitution and the court mandate to provide opportunities for low- and moderate-income housing throughout the State of New Jersey. I look forward to working with the Governor this time around to make sure that our efforts are successful – and beyond judicial reproach.”

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