- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has won a temporary reprieve from an order requiring the state Council on Affordable Housing to meet and advance rules on how much housing each town must allocate for lower-income people.

The state’s Supreme Court issued a stay Tuesday afternoon at the state’s request. The court says the stay will remain in effect until a further order is issued in a complicated case that has been before the state's top court, in various forms, for nearly 40 years.

The court has repeatedly ruled that New Jersey communities must provide some housing that is affordable to lower-income residents. The rulings are hailed as landmark decisions by progressives, seen as cumbersome by many local officials and held up as an example of judicial activism and social engineering by conservatives.

Christie tried to abolish COAH, but the Supreme Court last year said he could not take such action on his own. But the commission has not been meeting and has not adopted rules for towns that were supposed to go into effect 15 years ago.

Fair Share Housing is suing to try to get those rules in place.

Last Friday, a lower court ruled that the state council must meet later this month and again in May. It also must approve rules on affordable housing later this year. Those are the orders that are now being delayed.

Christie’s administration argued in court filings that the court does not have authority to tell a state agency what to do. It also claimed the ruling was premature because the state government had already asked the Supreme Court for more time to make the rules at issue.

It’s not clear when the top court will make another ruling.

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