Every developing municipality must, by its land use regulations, presumptively make realistically possible an appropriate variety and choice of housing. Presumptively it cannot foreclose the opportunity of the classes of people mentioned for low and moderate income housing and in its regulations must affirmatively afford that opportunity, at least to the extent of the municipality's fair share of the present and prospective regional need therefor. These obligations must be met unless the particular municipality can sustain the heavy burden of demonstrating peculiar circumstances which dictate that it should not be required so to do.
A trial court found that defendant township had unlawfully excluded low and moderate income families from the municipality by means of its zoning ordinance, and ordered affirmative relief, which did not include provision for persons who were not residents. The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, insofar as it found that defendant had unlawfully excluded low and moderate income families through its zoning ordinance, and ordered the zoning ordinance modified by defendant.
Did defendant township unlawfully exclude low and moderate income families through its zoning ordinance?
Under the zoning restrictions, only single-family homes and expensive multi-family housing could be built. The reason for that course of conduct was to keep down local taxes on property. While a municipality could consider that factor in its zoning decisions, it could not make it impossible to provide low and moderate income housing in the municipality. It was inherent in N.J. Const. art. I, para. 1, that all police power enactments had to conform to the basic constitutional requirements of substantive due process and equal protection of the laws. Further, its obligation to afford the opportunity for adequate low and moderate income housing extended at least to its fair share of the present and prospective regional need therefor.