Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NJ appeals court: Environment trumps housing for poor

    [Updated at 4 p.m. on 8/16/11 and at 4:18 p.m. to add two related news stories]

For months, advocates for the poor and advocates for the environment, usually liberal soul-mates, have been butting heads in New Jersey over providing for affordable housing in the state's environmentally sensitive Highlands region.

Yesterday, the affordable housing advocates came away with the headache while the enviros emerged smiling as a state appellate court ruled that development restrictions in the Highlands Act can proceed.

The Star-Ledger reported that housing advocates slammed the decisions, saying the Highlands plan does nothing to spur construction of homes or apartments for low- and moderate-income residents.

"There are no regulations at all in the Highlands," said Kevin Walsh, counsel to the Fair Share Housing Center. "The Highlands Council is making things up as they go along. That’s not the way our government is supposed to work."

Eileen Swan, executive director of the Highlands Council, said the council is "very pleased" with the ruling.

"It affirms our work," she said. "The method by which the regional master plan was adopted was more rigorous than any rule making. We are always very careful to go back to the Highlands Act and make sure we are always consistent with it."

Read the entire Star-Ledger story here. NJ Spotlight story here  Bergen Record story here.

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