“You can’t just gut COAH via Executive Order.”
That was made clear Friday afternoon when the court ruled that a 90-day suspension cannot take place without oral arguments, and then a ruling.
COAH was created by the legislature as a response to the Court’s Mount Laurel decisions. Thus, it would stand to reason that only the legislature could make substantive changes or even suspend a program that is so entrenched in the culture of Trenton.
So, when Christie attempted to follow through on his campaign pledge, housing advocates sought injunctive relief which they were granted “quite swiftly.” That’s not a good sign for the executive branch being able to effectuate real change here.
“We’re disappointed, obviously.” Said Mike Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman. “Not what we wanted to see.” But they do expect to go forward with the reform recommendations. It just appears now that they’ll need the legislature to do it.
Coupla things here that are interesting. One is that McGreevey ( I don’t still need to preface that name with “Former Governor Jim,” do I? ) tried to alter COAH by granting substantive certifications. In other words, he and Commissioner Susan Bass Levin where granting extensions to towns that failed to comply and the court said basically said “nah-uh.” So, if changing COAH were simple, it probably would have been done already.
Secondly, the lesson again here is that Christie cannot go it alone. He needs the other branches of government to implement real change. That is part of the reason we are in this mess, but on the flip side – the merry-go-round is designed to function slowly and methodically.