Appellate Division Directs Board to Meet, Warns of Fines and Civil Detention for Disregard of Court Order, and States that Court May Find Further Disregard "to be COAH's Third and Final Strike" 

TRENTON, NJ - In a decision issued this afternoon, the Appellate Division granted Fair Share Housing Center's motion to enforce a court order requiring the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to adopt rules within five months. The court found that the state unlawfully disregarded that order. The agency failed to even meet regarding the court order because a Christie Administration cabinet member, Department of Community Affairs Commissioner and COAH Chairman Richard Constable, refused to schedule a meeting.

The court's five-page order, which is available here, directs the agency to take multiple steps that will result in rules being proposed by the end of March 2014 and adopted in May 2014. The court notes that it "remain[s] hopeful . . . that reasonable minds will prevail, and that the members of the COAH Board will see that this course of intransigence serves only to needlessly undermine the public's confidence in the effectiveness of public institutions." It additionally notes that "If these measures prove to be ineffective, we may have no other choice but to declare that event to be COAH's third and final strike."

"COAH's and the Christie Administration's failure to obey the law is startling. The court's decision is an appropriate response. This will help get more homes in New Jersey that working families and people with disabilities need," said Kevin D. Walsh, the attorney with Fair Share Housing Center who argued the motion before the Appellate Division. "The governor's bullying and ideological campaign to undo years of civil rights laws will fail because people need homes to live in and raise their families. The rule of law will prevail."

Further information regarding the motion filed by FSHC is available here.