FACTS: The land use regulation by the Township of Mount Laurel was accused of unlawfully excluding from the municipality, low and moderate income families by the Southern Burlington County N.A.A.C.P. and others. The plaintiffs consisted of blacks and hispanics seeking low to moderate income housing quarters. This group was not the only group of minorities barred from many municipalities by the land use regulations. Elderly couples, young couples, single persons and large, growing families who are not impoverished, but still cannot afford some of these living units. The ordinance requirements were designed for persons of at least middle income, making it economically impossible for low and moderate income families to inhabit the Township of Mount Laurel.
HISTORY OR PROCEDURE: The Southern Burlington County N.A.A.C.P. amongst others brought the Township of Mount Laurel to suit in Trial Court, 119 N.J. Super. 164, declaring that the land use regulation unlawfully excluded low to moderate income families from the municipality. The Trial Court found that the zoning ordinance was "totally invalid". The Trial Court also ordered the municipality to create studies of the housing needs of low and moderate income individuals who currently or formerly have lived in the community in substandard housing and also those individuals who are in income classifications currently employed in the municipality living elsewhere. They were also required to present a plan of "affirmative public action designed to enable and encourage the satisfaction of indicated needs". The township appealed the decision of the Trial Court to the Appealate Division.
ISSUE: Through land use regulations, can a municipality validly exclude low to moderate income individuals by making it economically impossible to inhabit the area?
REASONING: Municipalities must zone for the welfare and benefit of the people and not solely for the benefit of the tax rate. Through land use regulations, municipalities are required to eliminate exclusionary practices and create a variety of housing…