COAH–Is the State Agency Overseeing Affordable Housing Dead or Alive?
Dated: March 8, 2012
Today, the New Jersey Appellate Division voided Governor Chris Christie’s 2011 reorganization plan that kept a controversial Christie campaign promise–abolishing the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing or, COAH. COAH came into existence following the passage of New Jersey’s Fair Housing Act in 1985 and it was (or is?) the agency responsible for administering municipal affordable housing obligations throughout the State. Essentially, the Appellate court found that the Governor exceeded his powers by abolishing COAH and the rule of law established by this decision is simple: Only the Legislature can abolish COAH.
In 2010 and 2011 there were a number of proposed bills which sought just to do that with the infamous “S1″ being the closest one to almost accomplish that goal. However, S1 was conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie last year. Now the question becomes what happens in light of this ruling. The effect and oddity of this decision is on par with a court ordering that a former spouse has to be invited to dinner by the spouse who divorced the former spouse. Will the Legislature and the Governor finally come together to either solve the COAH dilemma or will the Legislature take over and simply abolish the agency itself? In the meantime, what practical powers will COAH have until these issues are resolved? These questions and other abound but until it is all sorted out the COAH vortex seems–again–to be alive and kicking. Stay tuned.
Ken Biedzynski is an attorney at Goldzweig, Green, Eiger, & Biedzynski who specializes in personal injury and landlord tenant law.