As the pace at the State House slows to a trickle, there is an interesting side story about Ray Lesniak’s COAH bill, S-1.
S-1 abolishes COAH. But it also does a lot more including a requirement that 10% of new development be set aside for low and moderate income housing. Of course that has modifications and loopholes that housing advocates say render the 10% figure useless…but that’s a whole other debate which is way too complicated for me to tackle in this post.
Here is what S-1 also does: eliminates a 2.5% fee on commercial development. Right now, there is a moratorium on that fee but it’s set to expire July 1. Well, The Senate with Lesniak’s prodding, already passed S-1. The assembly has not. And from what I am told they will not before the end of the fiscal year. Housing and Local Government Committee Chairman Assemblyman Jerry Green told me last week that their offices got flooded with calls protesting S-1…especially since critics were not allowed to testify during the Senate Committee hearings. Green has promised a slower more deliberative process in the lower house…in other words he is in no hurry to pass the bill to meet Lesniak and Governor Christie’s timeline ( yes, btw – the Governor also wants S-1 passed ASAP ).
Green and others say the votes simply are not yet there in the Assembly. And they are proposing a separate piece of legislation to extend the moratorium on the fee. But Senator Sweeney told me Thursday that is a non-starter. He says the Assembly needs to pass S-1. There will be no extension.
Reached by telephone Democratic State Committee Chairman John Wisniewski ( who is hoping a development project in Sayreville goes forward this Summer without the fee ) said about trying to force a vote on S-1 in the Assembly, “This is the philosophy of Governor Christie, and I am not sure we should be embracing that. It doesn’t make for good government.”