ASSEMBLY CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 249

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED JUNE 19, 2017

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  HOLLY SCHEPISI

District 39 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblyman  ANTHONY M. BUCCO

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman N.Munoz, Assemblymen McGuckin, DiMaio, Clifton, Ciattarelli, Rooney and Assemblywoman B.DeCroce

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Proposes amendment to New Jersey Constitution to prohibit exclusionary zoning and clarify municipal obligations regarding affordable housing construction.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


A Concurrent Resolution proposing to amend Article IV, Section VI, paragraph 2 of the New Jersey Constitution.

 

     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey (the Senate concurring):

 

     1.  The following proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of New Jersey is agreed to:

 

PROPOSED AMENDMENT

 

     Amend Article IV, Section VI, paragraph 2 to read as follows:

     2.  The Legislature may , except as otherwise provided in this paragraph, enact general laws under which municipalities, other than counties, may adopt zoning ordinances limiting and restricting to specified districts and regulating therein, buildings and structures, according to their construction, and the nature and extent of their use, and the nature and extent of the uses of land, and the exercise of such authority shall be deemed to be within the police power of the State.  Such laws shall be subject to repeal or alteration by the Legislature.  The Legislature shall not enact laws that authorize a municipality to engage in any exclusionary zoning activity that would prevent the development of housing options for low and moderate income residents of the State.  The prohibition on exclusionary zoning shall not create an affirmative obligation on any municipality to construct, or cause to be constructed, housing options to be occupied by low and moderate income residents.

 

     2.  When this proposed amendment to the Constitution is finally agreed to pursuant to Article IX, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, it shall be submitted to the people at the next general election occurring more than three months after the final agreement and shall be published at least once in at least one newspaper of each county designated by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Secretary of State, not less than three months prior to the general election.

 

     3. This proposed amendment to the Constitution shall be submitted to the people at that election in the following manner and form:

     There shall be printed on each official ballot to be used at the general election, the following:

     a.  In every municipality in which voting machines are not used, a legend which shall immediately precede the question as follows:

     If you favor the proposition printed below make a cross (X), plus (+), or check (a) in the square opposite the word "Yes." If you are opposed thereto make a cross (X), plus (+) or check (a) in the square opposite the word "No."

     b.  In every municipality the following question:

 

 

 

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO CLARIFY LEGISLATIVE ZONING POWER CONCERNING AFFORDABLE HOUSING

 

 

YES

     Do you approve amending the Constitution to prohibit exclusionary zoning by towns in New Jersey?  Exclusionary zoning can prevent the development of low income housing units and has been declared illegal by federal and State courts.

     Pursuant to the amendment, towns would not have an obligation to actually construct, or cause to be constructed, affordable housing units.

                                                           

 

 

INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT

 

NO

     This proposed amendment would prohibit exclusionary zoning by towns in New Jersey.  Exclusionary zoning can prevent the development of low income housing units and has been declared illegal by federal and State courts.

 

 

     Pursuant to the amendment, towns would not have an obligation to actually construct, or cause to be constructed, affordable housing units.  This would eliminate lawsuits that result in the forced construction of specific housing projects.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This concurrent resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to clarify municipal obligations regarding affordable housing.  The amendment would place language in the State Constitution to specifically prohibit the practice of exclusionary zoning.  Exclusionary zoning can prevent the development of low income housing units and has been declared illegal by federal and State courts.  Pursuant to the amendment, towns would not have an obligation to actually construct, or cause to be constructed, affordable housing units.  This would eliminate litigation that results in the forced construction of specific residential projects.

     It has been more than 40 years since the first court case was initiated in New Jersey concerning the opportunities for poor and minority families to obtain affordable housing. The opinion of the New Jersey Supreme Court in this case and subsequent decisions have become known as the Mount Laurel doctrine. Since that time, the demographics of the State have changed markedly, including increased population growth and density, wider disparity of income levels among residents, and perhaps most importantly, tremendous increases in the average cost of housing.  

     The early judicial decisions concerning this issue identified certain local government zoning practices as a bar to increasing the opportunities for housing for low and moderate income households. A somewhat melded judicial and statutory scheme was created to impel municipalities to eliminate these practices voluntarily. Certain regulatory measures were implemented requiring municipal financial expenditures if certain zoning mechanisms were not embraced. Competing financial concerns for resources, such as new infrastructure and schools, have played a role in the complicated interpretation of the Mount Laurel mandate. This amendment is intended to overturn the Mount Laurel mandate regarding the actual construction of affordable housing units and eliminate the so-called “builder’s remedy” lawsuit, while reaffirming the State’s commitment to elimination discriminatory zoning practices.  The courts could remedy constitutional violations of the prohibition on discriminatory zoning by striking down zoning ordinances, rather than forcing the specific construction of any  particular project.