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Taking COAH Money Means More Sprawl

Date : Thu, 9 May 2013 12:53:06 -0400

For Immediate Release

May 9, 2013

Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100a

Taking COAH Money Means More Sprawl

Statement by Jeff Tittel

Today the Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Constable testified on the proposed DCA budget at the Assembly Budget Committee hearing. The new DCA budget called for stealing between $142 and possibly up to $160 million, which is thousands of housing units. Our Director Jeff Tittel made the following statement in reaction to the hearing today:

"Today DCA commissioner could not justify or even respond to why they are stealing these monies. Under direct examination by the Budget Committee members he couldn't even give a real answer to justify taking this funding. The Christie administration is stealing the monies to balance the budget, which is a hidden tax that is going to lead to more sprawl and loss of open space. These monies are supposed to be used by municipalities to help meet affordable housing obligations to build houses for seniors, handicapped, or people of modest means. Instead the Governor wants to use this money for tax cuts for the wealthy and to close the budget gap."

"The reason he couldn't justify it is because what they are doing is wrong. This money is important not only to help towns meet affordable housing needs but it also helps to protect the environment. By building affordable housing in the right places this prevent builder remember lawsuits and more sprawl."

"However, if this money is taken away from the towns the towns will still have to meet their affordable housing obligations. The towns will either have to raise the taxes or be subject to builder remedy lawsuits. When you take the money, the obligation does not go away. For every affordable housing unit the towns would have to give developers four market rate units which will promote over development. This action will promote more sprawl, lost of open space, more traffic, air pollution and higher property taxes. Towns are meeting their housing plans by taking this money away from them will force them to raise taxes giving the builders what they want."

 "The Governor has tried to abolish COAH, but not the town's obligation to build affordable housing. He is trying to take their money away as part of that plan. This is just another hidden tax by this Administration, which will lead to more sprawl and overdevelopment. Affordable housing determines land use in New Jersey it can either help to redevelop cities or towns or be used by builders to force high density development in communities that don't want it. What the Governor is doing is not only bad fiscal policy, but threatens our last remaining open space and environmentally sensitive areas in the state."

"This is part of the Administration's ongoing attacks on good planning and protecting environmentally sensitive areas. The Administration is weakening protections for Highlands and Pinelands, pushing sewers into environmental sensate areas, using the Waiver Rule to waive environmental standards, and using the State Strategic Plan to push development into environmental sensitive parts of New Jersey. This administration is on the side of developers and special interest over protecting the environment and open space. This will be used by developers to force more development into communities and creating more sprawl."

"This is unconscionable after Superstorm Sandy when so many communities are trying to rebuild when people of modest means and seniors need to fix or rehabilitate their houses. There are towns who need to build new affordable housing to help make up for what has been severely damaged or destroyed. This money will not only help jump start our economy by providing construction jobs, but will help make communities more livable as we help rebuild from Sandy. Instead of helping towns and cities get revitalized this will lead to further decline. This is going to mean more sprawl, more overdevelopment, and building in the wrong places. The Governor is trying to balance the budget not only on the backs of working people, but on the environment. This is just wrong for New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
Received on 2013-05-09 09:53:06

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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