An appeals court panel had decided the state can seize up to $200 million towns have set aside for affordable housing, but not without giving them a right to contest.

The three-judge panel heard arguments in Newark Friday.

Lawyers for the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the Fair Share Housing Center asked the panel to stop the seizures, which could have begun July 17.

Under a 2008 law, the state can use the money if local governments do not commit the funds. The lawyers argued the state Council on Affordable Housing never made clear what it means to commit the funds.

A state lawyer argued towns are seeking to change the law and the definition of committing funds is clear.

Gov. Chris Christie plans to use the money in the current state budget.

 

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)