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May 7, 2008

COAH Regulations, Affordable Housing



Dear Mayor:

Yesterday, the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) met and approved their new “third round” regulations, which will  again be published in the June 2 New Jersey Register and effective as of that date.

COAH also proposed amendments to these regulations, which will be published in the June 16 New Jersey Register, beginning a 60-day comment period for these amendments, which the Council hopes to approve in the fall.

COAH approved its regulations with only minor technical corrections, as anticipated.  Also, COAH did not adopt its repeal of its earlier regulations, which will allow the three local governments (and only those three) which were granted substantive certification under the earlier third round regulations, to continue with their plans under the previous regulations.

If you recall, the League’s Executive Board approved preparations for a possible challenge to COAH’s regulations and sought $500 pledges for interested municipalities. While the proposed amendments address some concerns raised by local governments, based on our preliminary review, the League will continue its preparations for a possible challenge.  For more on this and the pledge drive, please see our Dear Mayor letter of April 18.    

A copy of the League’s pledge form is available at:

The proposed amendments are online at:

COAH’s website includes a summary of the proposed changes approved for publication yesterday, as follows:

  • Municipal level household and employment growth projections have been updated to reflect new DEP Water Quality Management rules, municipal zoning data for municipalities in the Highlands region, and actual growth through 2006 for each municipality.
  • COAH’s vacant land analysis was revised to incorporate new DEP spatial data to expand the definition of C-1 streams, remove environmentally sensitive lands from current sewer service areas and recompute the development capacity of lands supported by septic systems pursuant to the pending DEP Water Quality Management Act Rule (WQMR), and use recently released Highlands spatial and other data to recompute the development capacity of lands in the Highlands Planning Area. With these revisions, the report results in a revised estimate of 1,012,692 acres of unconstrained and undeveloped vacant land in the State, and that this land has a residential development capacity of 711,670 dwelling units and non-residential capacity space of 1,090.6 billion square feet.
  • Municipalities that approved affordable housing projects between December 20, 2004 and June 2, 2008 will receive a one-for-one bonus for each affordable housing unit approved.
  • To promote development in smart growth and redevelopment areas, municipalities that include affordable housing units in smart growth areas near transit or those that include affordable housing units in redevelopment areas will receive a one-third bonus for every affordable unit approved.
  • COAH has established presumptive densities and affordable housing set-asides for inclusionary developments based on the State Development and Redevelopment Plan. Higher density standards are established in Planning Area 1, 2 and Centers and lower densities outside of these growth areas.
  • Inclusionary developments in workforce housing census tracts will have a 15 percent affordable housing set-aside requirement to recognize potential economic feasibility issues with these projects and encourage the production of rental housing.
  • Municipalities may subtract demolitions of occupied non-residential buildings from the calculation of net growth in the municipality.
  • A new regional provision has been added to permit municipalities to work with regional entities such as the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and Fort Monmouth to address regional obligations.
  • More flexibility has been added to the provision allowing credit for affordable housing in redevelopment areas.
  • Hospitals and nursing homes relocating within the same COAH region will be exempt from a growth share obligation.
  • The number of jobs generated by warehouse construction was reduced from 1.5 to 1 job per 1,000 square feet.
For more, please see our Dear Mayor letters of:  April 18, March 25,  March 10 and December 18.  Questions on the correspondence can be directed to Mike Cerra at or (609) 695-3481 x120.


                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                                                        Executive Director





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