COAH. That ugly acronym that everyone hates. It’s the reason why many towns have lost control of growth within their borders. It’s the reason why zoning board meetings are packed and often contentious. It gave birth to the concept called Builders Remedy Lawsuit. The Supreme Court ruling was to ensure that anyone could afford to live in any town. In reality, it took zoning and responsible growth away from the people in town and gave it to developers. I find that COAH becomes a problem when it’s not managed properly.
Do you know that the Council on Affordable Housing is not the only source for a COAH obligation? Do you know that every new market-rate residential development creates new additional obligations? So when a developer comes into a town and, magnanimously, offers to help fulfill a COAH obligation by building 40 COAH units in a 221 unit apartment building, the 181 market-rate units creates more COAH obligations. Of course, when the Democrats amended the Master Plan in 2008, they did not need to put New Milford’s entire COAH obligation on the water company property. They could have broken the obligation down into smaller units so developers could not use the COAH obligation to build 221 apartments.
Do you know that COAH allows certain development that does not create new obligations? In general, anything that includes housing for seniors, handicapped or developmentally disabled does not create new COAH obligations. In addition, senior housing does not create any issues for our schools.
So, New Milford could easily fulfill its 40-unit COAH obligation by spreading it over 10 properties which would mean 4 units per property. We could utilize some of the foreclosed houses in town and lessen the blow of growth by rehabbing existing housing stock and we could try to attract senior housing and group homes and fulfill our obligation without creating new ones. All it takes is managing our obligation better.
Vote for Peter Rebsch and me for Town Council and this will be the type of thinking and planning you’ll be getting.
Fighting for the future of New Milford.
Borough Council President
Borough of New Milford