State-based affordable housing initiatives have survived decades of controversy. Two of the most successful—in Massachusetts and New Jersey—encourage homebuilders to bypass local regulations when zoning ordinances limit available land. Opponents assert that these programs invite developers to pillage open space, impairing wetlands and promoting sprawl. This Article examines the low- and moderate-income housing programs established by the so-called “Anti-Snob Zoning Act” in Massachusetts and the Mount Laureldoctrine in New Jersey. Drawing on Oregon’s integrated planning regime as a point of contrast, it analyzes the potential for tension between policies that advance affordable housing in the suburbs and the asserted municipal interest in safeguarding the local environment. Finding that elements of the legal and regulatory structure appear to promote this conflict, the Article concludes with the observation that a more coherent statewide planning system could better integrate affordable housing and the environment, and offers thoughts on how to alter the perception that the two are adversaries.
Equity in Eden: Can Environmental Protection and Affordable Housing Comfortably Cohabit in Suburbia? ,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.