The Borough of Haddonfield reported today that the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) has given “substantive certification” to Haddonfield’s Third Round Housing Element and Fair Share Plan. COAH certified the plan on Wednesday, March 10, after years of litigation.
COAH also lifted the “scarce resource restraint” it placed on all Haddonfield properties in November 2004, preventing the Planning Board from hearing applications for many types of development. As a result of this action, Haddonfield property owners can once again seek approval to construct buildings other than one- and two-family dwellings.
Haddonfield filed its proposed Third Round plan on time and in accordance with COAH’s rules, and subsequently participated in mediation to address issues raised by the only objector, the Fair Share Housing Center. After mediation failed to settle the differences, Haddonfield asked COAH to approve its plan despite Fair Share’s objections, which COAH did.
COAH does not require municipalities themselves to provide medium- and low-income housing. Rather, it requires them to have a plan that specifies what their “fair share” of such housing is, as part of a total requirement for the state as a whole. The plan also identifies properties within the municipality that, if developed, would be required to include a certain number of affordable housing units.
Municipalities that do not have an approved Fair Share Plan, or that have not submitted such a plan to COAH, are subject to “builder’s remedy” lawsuits that, if successful, require them to approve proposed developments that might not include the required number of affordable housing units. Having received substantive certification from COAH, Haddonfield is now immune from such actions (as it has been ever since it filed its plan).