A New Jersey court says the state government can seize money that towns had set aside for affordable housing, but only after following a procedure intended to give the communities due process.

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The three-judge appeals panel ruled Friday.

The state has been seeking to take up to $200 million in affordable housing funds that towns have not committed to use on projects.

That's allowable under a 2008 law. But affordable housing advocates say the state Council on Affordable Housing ignored plans towns submitted for using the funds.

Under the court order, the state must give towns a chance to respond to plans to take the funds.

In the ruling, the judges also said it was improper for state legislative leaders to write the court on the towns' behalf last month.


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