by Alida Kass
February 07, 2014
Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected Governor Chris Christie’s attempt to reform the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), holding that the Reorganization Act did not authorize the Governor “to abolish independent agencies that were created by legislative action.” Beginning in 1975, a series of cases known as the Mount Laurel decisions established a municipal constitutional obligation to provide for a “realistic opportunity for the construction of [their] fair share” of affordable housing. In 1985 the New Jersey Legislature responded by passing the Fair Housing Act, which codified COAH as the agency tasked with ensuring municipal compliance with the Mount Laurel doctrine. However, both the Governor and the Legislature have sought to abolish COAH. The decision striking down the Governor’s reforms betokens a return to Mount Laurel-based methodologies. It also seems to confirm that any change in the way COAH regulates municipal housing policy must begin in the Legislature.