Jackson Township has joined a lawsuit with 12 other municipalities across New Jersey against Governor Phil Murphy over what they allege are violations of the Fair Housing Act.
In their lawsuit, the municipalities are demanding the governor reconstitute New Jersey’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), saying by failing to appoint members to the COAH Board, he is in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
In 1984, the New Jersey Legislature approved the Fair Housing Act, which also included COAH — a bipartisan agency made up of 12 members appointed by the governor, all of whom represented a variety of interest groups.
The agency was responsible for ensuring that all 565 New Jersey municipalities provided their fair share of low and moderate income housing.
But in 2010, then Governor Chris Christie suspended COAH and appointed a committee in preparation to dismantle it. But the Supreme Court ruled that it was not within his power ““to abolish independent agencies that were created by legislative action”.
In 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled that COAH was technically non-functional and divested the committee of any jurisdiction over municipal housing plans, and instead ruled that towns must petition the lower court for approval of their housing plans.
In their lawsuit now, the towns, which also also include Chatham, East Hanover, Beach Haven, Bordentown, Cranford, Egg Harbor, Fairfield, Freehold, Mahwah, Montvale, Readington and Sayreville, are asking Murphy to appoint members to the board, saying he is required to do so according to the Fair Housing Act.
The municipalities want a court order to reconstitute the agency to protect towns “from runaway development while creating actual and livable affordable housing consistent with sound land use planning principles,” one of the townships said in a press release.