By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
After the New Jersey Supreme Court gave trial courts jurisdiction over affordable housing in the Garden State back in March of this year, Save Jerseyans, we knew there was potential for some interesting opinions (to say the least).
We got one such ruling on Friday in Middlesex County.
By way of background, New Jersey’s affordable housing guidelines expired in 1999. Litigation commenced last year when COAH failed to issue new rules by November 2014 as mandated by the Supreme Court. The Christie Administration was unsuccessful in its efforts to kill COAH administratively.
Today, Superior Court Judge Douglas Wolfson handed down a three-prong set of guidelines – he called them “protocols – for adjudicating notoriously vicious, complicated and expensive disputes between towns, developers and other interested parties, all stemming from a roiling dispute in Monroe Township. At the heart of the ruling is a five month immunity period from so-called “builder’s remedy lawsuits” (this is a huge concept, but to summarize, we’re talking about shelving home rule and permitting a court intervening to grant a building permit) when a municipality’s affordable housing plans are undergoing judicial review.
“Adherence to these principles will help focus the litigation and assist in fostering a prompt, efficient and fair resolution of the constitutional compliance issues, without unnecessary distractions or impediments from builder/developers or other interested parties,” Wolfson explained.
I’ll have more to say when I’ve had a chance for a closer read of the decision, Save Jerseyans. Suffice it to say, it’s sad we’re even in this situation. Which situation? One where seven justices in black robes compel dozens of judges to usurp municipal zoning authority for the sole purpose of extra-constitutional social engineering.