njdep home about dep index by topic programs and units dep online

Policy Directive 2003-001
Development of the Blueprint for Intelligent Growth (BIG) Map and Regulatory Transition

This Directive is intended to guide regulatory decisions and permitting processes as the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP or the Department) develops the Blueprint for Intelligent Growth (BIG) map.


The BIG map is an important element of Governor McGreevey's State of the State initiatives to stop overdevelopment and congestion. Ultimately, this approach will strengthen environmental and natural resource protection and promote development and redevelopment in areas that are appropriate from an environmental and planning prospective, by providing a common platform among agencies that will identify those areas that are appropriate for growth and those areas that need stronger regulatory protection. The map will ultimately be incorporated, as appropriate, into the State Development and Redevelopment Plan (the State Plan) map. Following a period of informal consultation with municipal officials and the public, the map is currently undergoing preliminary review prior to being promulgated as a rulemaking proposal.

Regulatory reforms identified with the BIG map will make DEP's regulatory standards and outcomes predictable and consistent with the funding and regulatory programs of other agencies. The BIG map will provide a basis for across-the-board reform of DEP's regulations. Instead of the current one-size-fits-all approach, in which development projects that are desirable from an environmental or planning perspective are subject to the same standards and often lengthy regulatory approval process as all other projects, DEP will reform its approach to provide expedited turnaround times and predictable standards across program areas when development is proposed in places appropriate for growth. In places where environmental criteria or natural resource values demand greater protection, DEP and other agencies will set standards more protective than current regulations, subject projects to closer regulatory scrutiny, and ensure that no state funds are spent in a way that might contribute to degradation of the resource. This will also enable DEP to review applications in growth areas in an expedited manner.

While the map is being developed in regulatory form, we are working with the State Planning Commission to incorporate more environmental information into the State Plan map. This will reduce the potential for conflicts where an area designated for growth under the State Plan map proves to present environmental or natural resource issues that make approval of new development problematic under DEP's regulatory mandates.


The transition to a landscape-based model in which DEP regulations are more precisely tailored to known environmental conditions and natural resource features is the most significant reform to the regulatory system since our major environmental laws were first enacted a generation ago. This effort requires integration of an enormous amount of data, and the conduct of robust public process to ensure that all affected constituencies are heard. Care also must be taken to ensure that the legally prescribed process for regulatory policy change is followed meticulously before any aspect of the BIG map is given regulatory effect, whether directly or indirectly.

Accordingly, I am directing staff as follows:

  1. Under no circumstances may the designation of a BIG Map zone (green, yellow, or red) be given regulatory effect with respect to a pending application for a permit, approval, authorization, or other regulatory decision. This prohibition shall remain in effect unless and until the BIG Map and associated regulatory changes are formally adopted by regulation following notice and comment in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

  2. New applications for any permit, approval, authorization, or other regulatory decision shall be processed according to current regulations and standard procedures and timetables unless and until the BIG Map and associated regulatory changes are formally adopted by regulation following notice and comment.

  3. Responses to inquiries from local municipal and planning officials should make clear that the BIG Map should not be the basis for regulatory or other decisions and should not otherwise be relied on unless and until the BIG Map and associated regulatory changes are formally adopted by regulation following notice and comment.

  4. Any rule changes proposed as part of the BIG Map initiative shall include criteria to determine which pending applications should, as a matter of fairness, be decided in accordance with current regulations. Such provisions shall be developed in consultation with interested members of the public.
  5. Programs other than regulatory programs, including open space acquisition, funding, and planning programs, may make use of the BIG Map, giving due regard to the inherent limitations of the data and information prior to the adoption of the BIG Map by regulation following notice and comment.
This directive shall be circulated to all staff and posted on the DEP web site.

Date: February 19, 2003 Bradley M. Campbell

contact us privacy notice legal statement
nj home my new jersey nj people nj business nj government departments

department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
statewide: njhome | my new jersey | people | business | government | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2003
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: July 3, 2018