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Sierra Club Condemns Dangerous Court Decision

Date : Tue, 25 Aug 2009 13:54:44 -0400

For Immediate Release
August 26, 2009 Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director

609-558-9100

Sierra Club Condemns Dangerous Court Decision Homes of Hope Vs. Eastampton

The New Jersey Sierra Club is outraged by yesterday's Appellate decision on Homes of Hope Vs. Eastampton. This decision will overturn the authority of local planning and zoning, undermine environmental protections, and promote sprawl and overdevelopment.

The court ruled that even if a community has met its affordable housing obligations and has been certified by COAH as being in compliance, developers can still overturn local zoning to build affordable housing projects.

What is so outrageous about this decision is that it overturns other case law that is more on point, including the Mount Laurel II decision, which says as long as the town meets in affordable housing obligation it can zone the rest of the town in the manner deemed appropriate.

"This decision declares open season on local towns and their zoning," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

The town of Eastampton was not only certified by COAH but had a surplus of affordable housing, according to its plan. The board of adjustment voted down the requested D variance, or use variance, which is the strictest deviation from municipal zoning. Homes of Hope sought this variance to build multi-family dwellings, a use not permitted in single family home zoning.

"Eastampton was supposed to have the presumption of validity because they have been certified by COAH," Tittel said. "The state of New Jersey was supposed to defend them in court. That didn't happen. Where was the Corzine Administration when it comes to protecting planning, zoning, and the environment?

The court ruled that affordable housing is an inherently beneficial use, therefore providing the right to overturn local zoning and allow the project to move forward. The decision is a published decision, which means that it is the law of the land and sets precedence throughout the state. When it comes to affordable housing, zoning no longer matters in New Jersey.

"All developers have to do now is say they want to build affordable housing and they will be allowed to overturn zoning," Tittel said. "We already have the Corzine Administration's COAH rules that are promoting sprawl and overdevelopment. Now, even if you comply with those rules, developers can still challenge you."

"Regardless of how environmentally sensitive the area is and how out of character the development is, affordable housing is permitted despite zoning," Tittel said. "We believe that the legislature has to address this issue and do it soon. This decision means more sprawl, more pollution and more overdevelopment."

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

<http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

Received on 2009-08-25 10:54:44

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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Page URL: http://NewJersey.SierraClub.org/PressReleases/0087.asp
Page Last Modified 8/26/2009


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