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IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1/16/03
03/3

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 984-1795

ADMINISTRATION BEGINS ANTI-SPRAWL REGULATORY REFORM

(03/3) TRENTON --- McGreevey Administration Cabinet members today launched the first step in the Governor's State of the State agenda to combat overdevelopment and congestion, outlining an innovative mapping approach that will align state regulations and funding programs with the State Plan.

Dubbed "The Big Map," this new approach ultimately will identify areas of the state where development will be encouraged and where growth will be strictly regulated.

It was coordinated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with the Departments of Community Affairs (DCA), Transportation (DOT), and Agriculture (DOA). A preliminary version of the map is being posted on DEP's web site today - www.state.nj.us/dep.

"We will have one state map that we will live by and not one dollar of taxpayer money will be spent to subsidize sprawl anymore," said Governor James E. McGreevey. "If you want to build and grow consistent with smart growth, then we will help you get regulatory approvals quickly and make sure the infrastructure is there to support you."

A major goal of the map is to provide clear direction to both developers and municipalities, so that planners will be aware of state regulatory issues and funding constraints prior to proposing new development projects. The map also allows DEP, DCA, DOT and DOA to integrate their data and planning so that the state's infrastructure investment is coordinated with community planning efforts and natural resource protection goals.

The web posting of the preliminary map will begin an intensive process of consultation with municipal officials, including county-by-county meetings, to reconcile the mapping with local conditions and planning. Ultimately, the map will be used by all state agencies and proposed to the State Planning Commission for incorporation into its map.

"Controlling sprawl means not only saying 'no' to development in certain places, but also saying 'yes' to development elsewhere," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Working with our mayors, county officials and other community leaders, we must plan now to provide attractive, affordable, and environmentally sound places for people to live. This map provides builders and planners with a transparent, predictable guide for where the state will encourage and support development."

"I am looking forward to working with our county and municipal partners over the coming months to create one map that will serve as the blueprint for smart growth and the preservation of our state," said Susan Bass Levin, Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. "I have charged the Office of Smart Growth to work with local governments to make sure that they have the right tools to plan for our future."

"Today marks the start of a consensus-building process that will help New Jersey address the critical issue of sprawl," said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. "As we determine priority areas for farmland preservation and work to ensure that our farms are economically viable, the Department of Agriculture will continue to provide input into the development of this map. We encourage municipalities, counties, farmers and all other interested parties to take an active role in this important process."

"For too long, our transportation system has allowed sprawl and unchecked development," said Acting Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere. "Thanks to Governor McGreevey's vision and commitment, we are finally spending our transportation dollars wisely - fixing our existing infrastructure and saying no to highway expansions that will only lead to more sprawl."

The map was developed by overlaying Geographic Information System (GIS) data for natural resources, existing development, infrastructure availability, and state planning areas. After integrating these various factors, the state created three regulatory categories, identified as green, yellow and red areas.

On the map, smart growth areas are designated in green, indicating that these are places where the state wants to encourage development and to channel growth. In these areas, the state will streamline and expedite the regulatory permitting process and dedicate funds for infrastructure and parks. The state will also use non-regulatory programs to sustain and to enhance the quality of life for residents and businesses in these areas. Smart growth areas include metropolitan planning areas, urban enterprise zones, Urban Coordinating Council neighborhoods, coastal centers, and areas along NJ Transit rail lines.

Yellow areas on the map indicate a cautious approach to growth. These are places where natural resource and infrastructure considerations do not clearly suggest that development should be discouraged or channeled.

The state has colored critical natural resource areas in red, indicating that the state has set the regulatory bar higher in these areas and will exact strict regulatory standards to limit growth. The vast majority of New Jersey's remaining wetlands and contiguous forests fall into these red areas. Critical natural resource areas include dedicated open space and farmland preservation lands, endangered and threatened species habitat, high quality waters designated Category One (C1), and other environmentally sensitive areas.

As the map is finalized, agencies across State government will revamp their regulatory funding programs, giving clear standards and fast decision times to development proposed in "green light" areas, while setting tougher standards and eliminating funding for development in "red light" areas. Intermediate standards and scrutiny will be developed for "Yellow light" areas.

"The map will help the state curb sprawl and protect the quality of life that every New Jersey resident deserves," said Campbell. "Smarter regulation and planning will cut the time parents spend stuck in traffic, protect precious drinking water sources for our families, and revitalize our communities."

The map unveiled today was developed through consultation with several municipal and county leaders, including representatives of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, and the New Jersey Association of Counties. After additional updates, it will undergo a period of informal comment and review, starting with a series of county-level meetings for municipalities and planners around the state. These meetings will provide an opportunity to ensure that the data used in developing the map matches municipal information about existing conditions and natural resources.

The administration plans to propose the map for formal regulatory adoption this spring, after which time there will be an official 60-day public comment period. Prior to the formal proposal, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will provide an online discussion board for individuals and groups to view the map and to offer input or raise concerns.

 

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