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January 6, 2015
Today the New Jersey Supreme Court held oral argument on
the Fair Share Housing Center’s (FSHC) motion to enforce litigant’s
rights. FSHC, as well as the New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA)
and representatives for other private developers, asked the Court to
declare that municipalities are no longer protected from litigation by
the COAH administrative process. Essentially, FSHC and the NJBA asked
the Court for a return of the pre-Fair Housing Act years, which were
marked by significant “builder’s remedy” litigation against
municipalities. Ironically, it was the proliferation of litigation
and the ensuing costs placed upon municipalities which led to the
passage of the Fair Housing Act in the mid-1980s.
The League, represented by Edward J. Buzak, Esq. opposed the FSHC’s motion by asking that:
- The Court should afford COAH the opportunity to
complete the task it started and either adopt the regulation as
proposed, simultaneously propose any amendments or develop new
- In no event, should municipalities that have filed with
the agency be stripped of the protection from builder’s remedy
- If the Court determines that this issue must be
resolved outside the agency, it should do so surgically, beginning with
the body of regulations developed by COAH, and then return enforcement
to the agency.
- If the Court does allow for court involvement, it
should first allow municipalities to seek immunity from a trial court.
League's Response Brief (PDF)
League Executive Director Bill Dressel offered the following comments, “The
best possible outcomes from the arguments today are for the
Legislature and the Administration to begin its efforts to reform the
Fair Housing Act and for COAH to schedule a meeting and resolve its
impasse. We trust the Court will see that a return to the pre-Fair
Housing Act era will only lead to unnecessary and cost prohibitive
litigation to be borne by municipalities. Any involvement by the Court
should be limited, surgical and maintain the immunity protections for
municipalities (and by extension taxpayers) guaranteed by statute.
Ultimately, however, a legislative solution to this impasse must be
* * * *
William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director, 609-695-3481, x122 or 609-915-9072.
Michael F. Cerra, Director of Government Affairs, 609-695-3481, ext. 120 or 609-532-2494
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