COAH plan deadline extension is possible

Assembly members petition for 90 more days


At a long and sometimes volatile Planning Board meeting Dec. 10, residents and officials could agree on one thing, hoping that the Dec. 31 deadline for municipalities to submit their Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) plans will be extended.

Once COAH set the deadline, Township Planner Richard Coppola warned Millstone that any town not filing a plan on time would face the possibility of a builder’s remedy lawsuit, which could affect zoning. He also suggested that the township send a letter to the state asking for a deadline extension as soon as possible. Although Coppola stated at previous meetings that it did not appear that COAH would grant a deadline extension, there now appears to be mounting political pressure on the agency to do so.

Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts and Assembly and Local Government Chairman Jerry Green sent a letter to COAH’s executive director, Lucy Vandenberg, asking for at least a 90-day extension.

“Extending the Dec. 31 deadline under which municipalities must submit housing plans is a top priority, especially considering how COAH’s proposed amendments to its rules as recently as September,” their press release states.

The press release further states that municipalities should be given the chance to submit realistic housing plans that reflect the latest COAH changes. The release also cites the global economic crisis as another reason to extend the deadline.

“We also want to give COAH and the state Department of Environmental Protection time to work together as new wastewater management rules are developed for municipalities,” the press release states.

Coppola said the legislators’ efforts toward a deadline extension do not mean an extension is a “done deal” but “potentially likely.” He said a decision would be made in the legislative session on Dec. 16, which took place after the Examiner’s deadline.

Coppola also said that Gov. Jon Corzine could grant an extension.