Court Hearing on Governor’s COAH Reorganization Plan Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in Trenton
Posted by Kevin Walsh on February 14th 2012
On Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 9:30 a.m., the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey will hear oral argument in an appeal of Governor Christie’s reorganization plan involving the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). The hearing, which is open to the public, will take place on the fifth floor of the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton.
In the appeal, Fair Share Housing Center contends that Governor Christie has unlawfully consolidated power by transferring the powers of an independent agency over which the governor previously had no direct authority to a department led by one of his cabinet members. The Center has asked the court to invalidate the reorganization plan, thus reinstating COAH and its independence.
Governor Christie first attempted to eliminate COAH through Executive Order 12 in February 2010. The Appellate Division enjoined that order and Governor Christie then rescinded it. In early-2011, the Governor tried, but failed, to persuade the Legislature to adopt his preferred housing policy through legislation. The governor vetoed legislation that would have reduced the role of direct state oversight involving housing because he felt that municipalities should never be required to provide housing opportunities for lower-income families, seniors, and people with special needs.
The COAH reorganization plan, which is the governor’s third strategy for getting his way, was proposed on June 29, 2011 and went into effect 60 days later. The plan was immediately appealed by the Center, and the Appellate Division accelerated its briefing and argument in view of the public interest nature of the matter. In a related appeal, which is also being argued on Wednesday, the Appellate Division has already enjoined rules issued by the Department of Community Affairs that implemented the COAH reorganization plan.