COAH Adopts Third Round Rule Amendments that Protect the Environment & Promote Smart Growth

 Amendments Are Final Major Piece Revised Third Round Regulations

TRENTON – The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) today adopted amendments to its revised third round rules and methodology at its monthly COAH Board meeting.  The amendments protect environmentally sensitive lands, provide adjustments for municipalities wishing to use actual local data on available land for development, promote affordable housing in redevelopment and smart growth areas, allow replacement of buildings to be exempt from calculation of growth, and provide direction for municipalities to meet the December 31 deadline.  The rules will be effective on October 20.

“Providing hard working families and our state’s senior citizens with the affordable housing they need and deserve is of the highest importance to Governor Corzine,” said Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Joseph Doria.  “These amendments were a direct result of New Jersey residents taking part in the governmental process.  COAH appreciated their participation, listened to their concerns, acted upon them and has created greater flexibility in their implementation.”

The amendments were initially proposed in June, 2008 when COAH adopted its revised third round rules.  The amendments were the result of over 4,800 public comments from 600 individuals and groups received in the spring of 2008 regarding COAH’s new rules.

Key amendments include:

  • Municipal household and employment growth projections were updated to reflect new DEP rules, new data from the Highlands Council, and actual growth through 2006 for each municipality;
  • COAH’s vacant land study was revised to include all environmentally sensitive lands, category one streams, and updated Highlands data;
  • Municipalities can come in with local data as to actual vacant land and COAH will make adjustments to the affordable housing obligation;
  • Municipalities that moved forward on affordable housing projects over the last four years will receive an incentive bonus;
  • New incentives were added for affordable housing located in redevelopment areas and smart growth areas near transit;
  • Vacant non-residential buildings that are demolished can be subtracted from the calculation of growth;
  • A new amendment was proposed to allow the subtraction of residential units that are the result of replacement of existing owner-occupied homes. 

COAH’s revised third round rules are the result of a January 25, 2007 New Jersey Appellate Court decision affirming many aspects of COAH’s third round rules, invalidating others, and remanding certain issues to COAH for rulemaking.  COAH unveiled the revised rules in December of 2007. 

The new rules, which went into effect on June 2, 2008, continue to use a growth share approach which bases municipal affordable housing obligations on market-rate residential and non-residential growth.  The rules establish a need of 115,000 units of affordable housing through 2018 (up from 52,000 in the previous rules) and will play a key role in Governor Corzine’s commitment to provide 100,000 units of affordable housing over ten years.

The rules establish a new growth share ratio of 1 affordable unit among 5 units and 1 affordable unit for every 16 jobs (previous ratios were 1 among 9 and 1 for every 25 jobs).  The rules return to the previous age-restricted cap of 25% of a municipality’s total obligation. 

COAH, an affiliate of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, facilitates the production of sound, affordable housing for low and moderate income households by providing the most effective process to municipalities, housing providers, nonprofit and for profit developers to address a constitutional obligation within the framework of sound, comprehensive planning.

Further information on COAH’s revised rules is available by logging on to