labyrinth

THE LEGAL LABYRINTH OF NEW JERSEY’S AFFORDABLE HOUSING OBLIGATIONS

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

New Jersey Court decisions to force municipalities to uphold their affordable housing obligations have created a labyrinth of law.  Recently, Mercer County Assignment Judge Mary C. Jacobson affirmed Princeton and West Windsor’s fair housing requirements, which totals more than 155,000 units. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, released the following statements:

“Affordable housing and court decisions determine land use patterns in New Jersey for generations to come more than anything else. Unless we ensure that we have appropriate rules that balance the need for affordable housing and the environment we will end up promoting sprawl and overdevelopment in our last remaining open spaces. We support affordable housing and believe every town must meet their obligations, but they must do it in a way that minimizes environmental impacts. We hope the courts will agree with this and towns will plan accordingly to prevent sprawl.”

“The courts have ruled that if a town protects the environment, they don’t have to build housing on that location. Town could be passing steep slope ordinances and other regulations that remove these areas from sewer service areas to avoid building there. We must utilize existing infrastructure, as well as prohibit building in environmentally sensitive areas and commit to smart growth. That means we should not be extending sewers in new areas and prohibit development near endangered species. We should not be building on toxic sites or be putting people in flood prone areas.”

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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