COAH Approves MOU With the Highlands Council

COAH Will Issue Guidance to Highlands Municipalities on Issue

TRENTON, N.J. – The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) Board today approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Highlands Council.  The Highlands Council is scheduled to vote on the MOU at their meeting tomorrow.

“The MOU is a great step in protecting the state’s drinking aquifers and this environmentally important land, while at the same time providing the affordable housing that Highlands’ residents need,” said Department of Community Affairs Commissioner and COAH Board Chairman Joseph Doria.  “Governor Corzine has stressed the need for inter-departmental cooperation and this action today indicates that we and the Highlands are ready, willing and able to work together on this issue.”

The MOU will help with the issue of how to provide affordable housing in the Highlands region.  COAH will issue letters offering guidance to Highlands’ municipalities in the near future on the MOU.

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. 

COAH will grant a waiver from the December 31, 2008 petition deadline to December 8, 2009 for any 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.  Subject to certain criteria, COAH will issue 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. 

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.

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.