TRENTON, NJ - As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments to overturn a July court decision not to mandate retroactive affordable housing obligations, Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman is calling for the legislature to advance his bill clarifying that forcing municipalities to meet “gap period” requirements violates established law.
“The time for litigation is over. Placing affordable housing decisions in the hands of the courts or agencies such as COAH has led to nothing but chaos, confusion and delays. The court agrees these decisions should be decided by the legislature. It is disappointing to see so-called ‘advocates’ continue to engage in frivolous lawsuits that only serve to block municipalities from understanding and fulfilling their housing obligations,:" Bateman said.
“Overturning the gap ruling will set a dangerous precedent that will decimate municipalities statewide. That is not up for debate," he added. "Far too many towns do not have the space or infrastructure to build thousands of new units in just a few years. Overrunning rural communities with high density housing will destroy the environment and cause property taxes to skyrocket.
“This appeal and all other cases involving affordable housing obligations should not be decided by the judiciary," Bateman continued. "In light of today’s proceedings, I urge the legislature to move my bill to take these decisions out of the court room, so we can finally empower local leaders to create affordable housing in a manner that makes sense for their communities.”
The New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division on July 11 ruled that municipalities are not required to meet retroactive affordable housing agreements from the “gap period” of 1999-2015. A successful appeal could force municipalities statewide to build more than 100,000 new housing units in just nine years.
The ruling specifically states that affordable housing obligations should be decided by the Legislative and Executive branches, not by the judiciary. The ruling also states that the legislature may craft legislation addressing the gap period, paving the way for swift passage of Senator Bateman’s legislation.
Bateman is also the sponsor of comprehensive affordable housing reforms to allow municipalities to administer their own affordable housing obligations, returning flexibility and autonomy to all communities.