On October 14, 2009, COAH adopted a resolution amending the scarce resource restraint that went into effect in November 2008 in the Highlands region.  The amendment exempts the development of cell phone towers from the restraint, under certain circumstances.

On August 20, 2009, the Highlands Council released Module 3 of its Plan Conformance guidelines, titled Housing Element and Fair Share Plan Instructions.  These instructions should be used by the municipalities that have been granted the petition extension by COAH (described below).

On August 12, 2009, COAH further extended the deadline for municipalities in the Highlands Region that have already requested an extension for plan submission, from December 8, 2009 to June 8, 2010.  Click here to view a list of the 51 municipalities to which this extension applies.  This list also shows the 19 municipalities in the Highlands region that have already petitioned COAH for substantive certification.  Nine of these municipalities (Bedminster Township, Boonton Town, Frelinghuysen Township, Harding Township, Hardyston Township, Milford Borough, Netcong Borough, Peapack & Gladstone Borough, and Roxbury Township) have been granted substantive certification.  In addition, Washington Township (Morris) and White Township were granted substantive certification under COAH's initial third round rules, and those certifications remain valid. 

Also on August 12, 2009, COAH adopted Guidance for Municipalities that Conform to the Highlands Regional Master Plan, along with a waiver from N.J.A.C. 5:97-2.3(a), 2.4, and Appendix F for municipalities that petition COAH for substantive certification and petition the Highlands Council to conform with the Highlands Regional Master Plan by June 8, 2010.  Instead of using COAH's projections in Appendix F, these municipalities may use the buildout capacity procedures developed by the Highlands Council along with the actual growth that has occured from 2004 through 2008 for the purpose of calculating the projected growth share obligation.  Workbook D, designed for utilizing these projections to determine the growth share obligation, was released on September 9, 2009.

On September 5, 2008, Governor Corzine issued Executive Order 114, regarding implementation of the Highlands Regional Master Plan (RMP) and coordination with Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). As directed by the Executive Order, on October 29, 2008, COAH approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Highlands Council. The Highlands Council approved the MOU on October 30, 2008. The MOU will help with the issue of how to provide affordable housing in the Highlands region.

Highlights of the MOU include:

Coordination of Planning Process and Plan Endorsement – COAH and the Highlands will share reports, data, and information relevant to each agency’s function and collaborate on decisions regarding the suitability of sites for affordable housing.

Implementation of P.L. 2008, Chapter 46 – The Highlands will identify opportunities for affordable housing, including the requirement for a 20 percent set aside in all residential developments in the Highlands.

Implementation of Executive Order 114 – The Highlands will establish growth projections for 2004-2018 which will be utilized for the purpose of projecting municipal growth share obligations for municipalities that conform to the RMP. The Highlands will ensure that municipalities conforming to the RMP address the actual growth share obligations. The Highlands will identify sites, opportunities and funding sources for affordable housing developments and ensure that municipalities that conform to the RMP support redevelopment and development to maximize affordable housing opportunities while preserving critical environmental resources.

On November 12, 2008, COAH granted a waiver from the December 31, 2008 petition deadline to December 8, 2009 for any Highlands municipality under COAH’s jurisdiction that, before December 31, 2008: 1) submits a duly adopted Notice of Intent in accordance with the Highlands Council’s Plan Conformance Guidelines; and 2) submits a duly adopted resolution notifying COAH of its intent to petition COAH no later than December 8, 2009. The Highlands will ensure that municipalities that petition for Plan Conformance preserve scarce resources for the production of affordable housing. COAH also issued a scarce resource order for all municipalities in the Highlands Region under COAH’s jurisdiction in order to preserve scarce land, water, and sewer resources and dedicate these resources on a priority basis for the production of affordable housing until such time as the municipality receives substantive certification from COAH or demonstrates that a scarce resource order is not necessary.

Coordination of the Transfer of Development Rights - The Highlands will consult with COAH when a municipality in the Highlands Region or in any of the Highlands counties expresses an interest in, or submits an application for, participation in establishing a Receiving Zone through the Highlands TDR program. The agencies will cooperatively examine the affordable housing component of a potential TDR Receiving Zone.