Transcript from statement read at the Dec. 5 Oceanport Borough Council meeting by Councilman Joseph Irace:
Tonight we are being "asked" under court order, to approve an affordable housing plan for the Borough of Oceanport for COAH Round 2. The entire debate on Affordable Housing is one that I have trouble understanding intellectually, socially and fiscally. While we all embrace the idea of lower priced homes, where newly married couples and our aging population can remain in our town for now and years to come, I have a hard time accepting the fact that the Courts, and not our legislature, have the ability to mandate how many homes and the type of homes that a municipality must provide. This is especially troublesome to me because the rest of the town bears the tax burden of this unfunded judicial mandate.
This COAH legislation and the resulting judicial decisions have been a social planning experiment gone awry from the very beginning. The confusing and often contradictory laws and court rulings arising from Rounds 1 and 2 of COAH have led to the Borough being sued for lack of compliance and have cost our residents hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The entire system is broken and needs to be fixed.
To his credit, Governor Christie tried to fix this mess by abolishing the COAH concept when he took office. Unfortunately, the courts and social activists intervened again and now we are either in Round 3 or in a state of flux depending on what you believe and who you talk to. In fact, we have had many meetings trying to figure out what our actual COAH number is.
The constantly changing rules, regulations and court decisions have had a devastating fiscal impact on the Borough of Oceanport and towns all across the State of New Jersey. How anyone in Trenton or sitting on a court bench could look someone in the eye and say with a straight face that the COAH concept works is beyond me. COAH is a lot like the weather: everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. The whole COAH affair has been intellectually stupefying, emotionally draining and fiscally unsound from the outset.
And I believe that the questions surrounding COAH will negatively impact the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth for decades and will be a huge financial burden to the taxpayers of New Jersey. It is my firm belief that the only people profiting from the COAH regulations as they stand now are the politicians, attorneys, builders and other related professionals.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that our elected state officials have failed to deal with this issue in a responsible manner and have, instead, ceded control over the housing issue to the Courts, we are all sitting here today pursuant to a court order that leaves us no choice but to vote yes for this concept plan. This isn’t how government is supposed to work. So, while I am voting yes to this concept plan because I have no other real option, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am outraged that we have been placed in this position due to our State government’s unwillingness to deal with this issue in a responsible manner and the Courts’ collective willingness to impose unfunded mandates on already financially strapped municipalities across the State of New Jersey.