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COAHBill Promotes Sprawl -passes

Date : Mon, 13 Dec 2010 17:29:09 -0500

  For Immediate Release
December 13, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Chapter Director, 609-558-9100

Bad Bill Passes Bill Promotes Sprawl

Trenton: Today the state legislature put a builder�s remedy bulls-eye on more than half of New Jersey�s municipalities by passing A3447/S1, a bill that abolishes the Council on Affordable Housing. This bill gives the power to developers to determine how towns will meet their affordable housing obligations. This legislation unfairly targets rural and environmentally sensitive towns. It includes no environmental criteria and puts our natural resources at risk. The bill exempts growing, suburban towns from affordable housing requirements, encouraging sprawl and overdevelopment.

While the Sierra Club strongly supports affordable housing in New Jersey, it should not be used as a tool to undermine environmental protections or promote growth in inappropriate places. Housing should be located where the jobs are, helping to prevent sprawl and pollution while providing people with economic opportunities. Affordable housing should not be used to promote development in rural and environmentally sensitive areas like the Highlands and Pinelands.

�This bill is scary. It turns planning and zoning on its head. The bill targets rural and environmentally sensitive areas for development while letting growing, suburban towns off the hook. This bill got rid of COAH only to give all the power to the developers,� Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club Director.

Under the changes in the bill they want to mandate local zoning towns and in order to comply they have to give the developers whatever they want. Inclusionary development just needs to be in a sewer service area, regardless if there are actually sewers on the site or not. Many sewer service areas go back to 60s and may not even have sewer plants or sewer lines in them. This bill would allow sewers to be extended into environmentally sensitive areas, one project at a time. Some of the worst sprawl projects in New Jersey happened because of this type of situation.

�We got rid of COAH and instead we have given all the power to developers� said Jeff Tittle.

Inherently Beneficial Designation

* Towns that comply with their affordable housing requirements should have legal shield but this bill takes those rights away.

* Towns that have passed ordinances and have complied with affordable housing requirements should not only be indemnified against lawsuits but the State Attorney General should defend those towns in cases of builders remedy litigation.

* Under this bill, all projects in areas without inclusionary zoning go to the Board of Adjustment, giving power to developers. This applies to more than half the towns in state, mostly those in rural and environmentally sensitive areas.

* An example of how that would work is if a developer has a hundred acre lot that is currently zoned at one house for every five acres, they will be entitled to build ten affordable housing units. If that developer asks for a de-variance to build 200 houses and 20 of them are affordable, the project would be designated �inherently beneficial� and therefore would be hard for the town to turn down. The developer would win because of the �inherently beneficial� designation. Developers will use this as an excuse to break through zoning and push high density projects and more development.

* If one-third of the town is attached housing, including townhouse and condo developments, that town is not required to zone for affordable housing, while the towns that do not have attached housing will be required to. Many growth communities that are fairly wealthy do not have to comply, but many rural areas that have a lot of single family homes do.

* Developers will be able to use the inherently beneficial designation as a way to overturn local zoning and get permission to build projects in environmentally sensitive areas.

�This bill promotes sprawl and overdevelopment in some of the most environmentally sensitive areas in New Jersey,� Tittel said.

Received on 2010-12-13 14:29:09

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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