Fox Rothschild Aids Nonprofit Housing OrganizationsJuly 18, 2013 – Press Releases
Henry Kent-Smith, a partner in the Princeton office of Fox Rothschild LLP, recently successfully represented a coalition of clients on a pro bono basis in a New Jersey Supreme Court case that brought the issue of affordable housing in the Garden State to the forefront again.
Kent-Smith’s clients – the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness – were granted leave to appear as amici curiae in the challenge to the governor’s authority to abolish the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) through his powers under the Reorganization Act. As Amici, Kent-Smith advocated on behalf of these affordable housing advocacy groups that the abolition of COAH deprives affordable housing advocates of a voice on COAH, thereby violating the carefully crafted balance of interests established by the Legislature in the Fair Housing Act.
In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled that COAH is not an agency under the authority of the state’s executive branch for purposes of the Reorganization Act and thus cannot be abolished by the Act. The ruling preserves COAH and the participation of the affordable housing interests on the COAH Board. The state Supreme Court will shortly rule on COAH’s Third Round growth share regulations, which were invalidated by an Appellate Division decision in 2010. The Third Round rules establish the method for determining affordable housing need, and how that affordable housing need may be satisfied by municipal zoning incentives and programs. The Third Round Rule decision will have a significant impact on towns and developers of affordable housing.
In his legal practice, Kent-Smith assists clients in real estate matters, including those involving land use permitting and the redevelopment process as well as eminent domain and condemnation. Kent-Smith has litigated numerous affordable housing cases and has appeared before more than 150 municipalities and more than 200 land use boards in every county in New Jersey.
Kent-Smith is the Immediate Past Chair of the Land Use Section of the New Jersey Bar Association and an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, Bloustein School of Planning. He is a member of the Board for the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, an affordable housing advocacy group, and PlanSmart, NJ, a regional planning advocacy organization. He is active in the New Jersey Builders Association, serving on the Land Use Planning Committee and the Legislative Affairs Committee. Kent-Smith regularly presents seminars for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education, most recently moderating seminars on Land Use Basics and Land Use Law Update.