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Lesniak, seeking changes in affordable housing incentives, to introduce EO 2014 Thursday

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Sen. Lesniak, the bill's sponsor, says it's withdraw is only temporary.
Sen. Lesniak, the bill's sponsor, says it's withdraw is only temporary. - ()

When state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) withdrew follow-up incentive legislation to the last year's Economic Opportunity Act last December, he pledged he'd be back.

At the time, a major component of the bill, an expansion of the state's tax credits for film and digital media productions, wasn't flying with Gov. Chris Christie's administration and Lesniak said he didn't want to risk some of the more widely supported elements of the legislation falling victim to an outright veto.

So instead, Lesniak said break up the bill into two parts, one of which he will introduce Thursday before the Senate Economic Growth Committee. State Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Paterson) is also listed as a sponsor.

Now dubbed the "Economic Opportunity Act of 2014, Part 1," this first bill will focus solely on affordable housing and redevelopment, incorporating two of the elements Lesniak proposed in December's follow-up legislation.

First is a relaxation of a requirement that developers set aside 20 percent of new residential units for low- or moderate-income homes. Instead, municipalities will be granted the ability to determine what percentage of newly-constructed units are to be reserved for those income levels.

Also included will be additional tax credits of $200 million for the redevelopment of rehabilitation of supportive, special needs, very low-income, low-income or moderate housing. These credits, however, would only apply in cases when 100 percent of the redeveloped units are then made available as affordable housing units with priority given to applications for qualified projects in Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union counties.

Lesniak said that while he had initially hoped these provisions would've landed in the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, he didn't want to hold the bill up any longer.

"We have not addressed the affordable housing needs of the state of New Jersey and this is a critical need that I tried to get into the last bill," Lesniak said.

As for leaving out the film incentives and other aspects of the withdrawn follow-up legislation, Lesniak said they are "not as clear-cut" as those he is putting forth Thursday.

However, Lesniak said he expects to introduce the second part of his bill, which will include film incentives, sometime in the next two months.

"I intend to reintroduce that and fight strongly for it because to me, it's a no-brainer," Lesniak said.

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