Cameron W. MacLeod, an Associate in the firm’s Real Property Department, authored an article, “Finding the Outer Edges of ‘Good Faith’ in ‘Mt. Laurel’ Litigation” in this week’s New Jersey Law Journal. An excerpt from the article can be found below. To view the full article, click here.
In 2015, the court directed that municipalities revise their housing elements and fair share plans “with good faith” and with “reasonable speed.” In re: N.J.A.C. 5:96 & 5:97, 221 N.J. 1, 33 (2015). Now, four and a half years later, the question of what constitutes “good faith” in these constitutional compliance cases is paramount, as the trial courts are now faced with whether a municipality’s housing element and fair share plan are consistent with the Mount Laurel obligations. The recent trial court decision in In re Englewood Cliffs, as well as the 2016 decision from Judge Wolfson in In the Matter of the Application of South Brunswick, both demonstrate what steps are necessary to establish “good faith” in these cases.
Of the 300-plus declaratory judgment actions commenced in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in In re: N.J.A.C. 5:96 & 5:97, 221 N.J. 1 (2015), many have now settled, or are in the process of settling. The result of this process will be measured by the construction of actual housing, rather than any singular article. The court created a new process for addressing compliance with the Mount Laurel doctrine by sending these matters back to the courts to serve in the stead of the moribund Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). However, through this new process, courts have had the opportunity to clarify and establish the outer bounds of what the courts have envisioned as moving forward and creating housing elements “with good faith.”