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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Boo to the League of Municipalities

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities took it upon itself Monday to send out a press release railing against the recent passage of an affordable housing reform bill in both houses of the state legislature.

In the five-graph release the League of Municipalities singled out provisions in the legislation that eliminate Regional Contribution Agreements, the nefarious practice that allowed richer municipalities to sell off portions of their affordable housing requirements to poorer municipalities.

Provisions like Regional Contribution Agreements only succeeded in allowing rich towns in New Jersey to circumvent the entire goal of state affordable housing law, of eliminating the ability of municipal officials to use zoning and others efforts to preclude low-income groups from taking up residence within their borders.

But the League of Municipalities chose to label the banning of Regional Contribution Agreements as “the elimination of a compliance mechanism,” when the legislature really succeeded in eliminating what amounted to a loophole in compliance with affordable housing law.

Perhaps equally disturbing as the League of Municipalities stance against this landmark legislation is that Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer succeeded in getting one last large-scale Regional Contribution Agreement in place before the loophole is closed.

The size of a Regional Contribution Agreement between Marlboro Township and Trenton was actually increased through negotiations between Mayor Palmer and Marlboro officials, up to 332 units from 252 units.

Trenton will only be receiving a paltry $25,000 per unit, which will likely fail to cover the immense economic and social costs of concentrating more and more of the state'’ affordable housing on Trenton’s streets, which already bear the load of many New Jersey municipalities’ affordable housing obligations.

According to news reports, Trenton City Council already approved this agreement, earlier this month.

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