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Commercial real estate advocate says Rowan report shows need for new housing policy

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A Rowan University report studying land use shows a need to revise the state’s affordable housing policy, according to a leading commercial real estate advocate.

The study, prepared by Rowan’s Geospatial Research Laboratory, found land-use policies have led to low-density residential development that is unaffordable for many residents.


Michael McGuinness, CEO of commercial real estate association NAIOP-New Jersey, said the report puts a spotlight on the need to have housing that is accessible to workplaces.


“The best way to plan for development and to grow intelligently here in New Jersey, or anywhere, is to take a more holistic approach to make sure housing is meeting the needs of the people who live or work in the area,” McGuinness said.


The report compared development in Somerset and Monmouth counties in the time period before 1986 to development from 1986 to 2007. It found that while commercial development is largely occurring in areas targeted for smart growth, low-density residential development was occurring in the same areas, where residents would benefit from more affordable, higher-density building.


“In fact, zoning has resulted in a land-use pattern that is substantially more segregated and more sprawling now than it was in 1970,” report authors John Hasse, John Reiser and Alexander Pichacz wrote.


Commercial developers have a keen interest in housing policy, because state housing policy has required commercial development to pay for affordable housing.


“The most important point to draw from this is that our current system that New Jersey has in place for providing affordable housing and identifying funding for affordable housing is flawed, and is need of some attention,” McGuinness said.


McGuinness said some newly built housing does serve the needs of commuters, adding that affordable isn’t needed in every municipality in the state.


Gov. Chris Christie recently abolished the state Council on Affordable Housing, but development advocates have pointed out COAH’s regulations remain in place.

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