New Jersey Governor Chris Christie doesn’t have the power to abolish a housing agency created by the state Legislature, the state Supreme Court said, upholding a lower-court ruling.
The Appellate Division ruled March 8 that Christie exceeded his authority by reorganizing to eliminate the Council on Affordable Housing and transferring its duties to the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. The Supreme Court agreed today, ruling 5-2 that the law on which Christie relied extends his authority only to agencies “of the executive branch.”
“The plain language of the Reorganization Act does not authorize the chief executive to abolish an independent agency like COAH,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote for the majority. “If the governor and the Legislature wish to abolish COAH, they must take another path.”
Christie, a Republican who’s up for re-election, created a task force in January 2010 to review the housing agency. In its June 2011 reorganization plan, the state said the transfer of the council’s duties would cut costs and reduce the complexity of affordable housing administration in New Jersey, according to court papers.
The council, which helped develop and implement affordable housing policies, was created under the state’s 1985 Fair Housing Act requiring municipalities to provide for the development of affordable housing.
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the ruling.
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