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Department of State

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Secretary of State

New Jersey State Planning Commission Adds New Members, Leadership

TRENTON - Four new appointees joined the State Planning Commission during the body’s annual meeting at the Statehouse Annex in Trenton. Thomas Wright was named Commission Chairman, while former Chairman Edward J. McKenna was appointed Vice Chair.

The Office of Planning Advocacy, which supports the work of the State Planning Commission, is housed within the New Jersey Department of State.

“The State Planning Commission plays an important role in both New Jersey’s economic development and response to issues such as climate change, and I am confident Chairman Wright and the commission members will serve us well,” said Secretary of State Tahesha Way. “Recent additions to the planning staff, combined with the vast experience of the commission members, can only strengthen the state’s land use planning capabilities and enhance the Commission’s relationship with towns and counties across New Jersey.”

Governor Phil Murphy nominated the four new members to the Commission and they were confirmed by the Senate in January. Gov. Murphy appointed Wright to serve as Chairman and the commission members selected McKenna as Vice Chair.

“As a former staff member to the New Jersey State Planning Commission, I am truly excited to join the Commission and help make New Jersey a fairer, more sustainable and prosperous state,” Wright said. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on the Commission to implement the State Development and Redevelopment Plan and help coordinate policies between and across public agencies. I want to thank Governor Murphy for giving me this opportunity to give back to New Jersey.”

“I am happy to pass the torch to Tom Wright, who is a regional leader on urban and land use policy. I look forward to working with him on the important issues the State will be facing in the immediate and longer term future,” McKenna said.

The new members are:

  • Thomas Wright, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), the nation’s oldest independent metropolitan research, planning and advocacy organization.
  • Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Y. Robinson, former deputy mayor of Franklin Township and current chair of the Puerto Rican Action Board.
  • Bruce A. Harris, former Mayor of Chatham Borough and current member of the Economic Development Advisory Committee and Historic Riverside Trail Advisory Committee in Chatham Borough.
  • Elizabeth Terenik, PP, AICP, Senior Project Manager at the Atlantic City Development Corporation, and former Middle Township Business Administrator and Atlantic City Director of Planning and Development.

“I really appreciate the new life that State Planning has been given by the Murphy administration,” said Donna Rendeiro, Executive Director of the Office of Planning Advocacy and Secretary to the State Planning Commission. “We have already begun to work with municipalities with expiring center designations and have begun to evaluate our rules and guidelines to update our process.”

About the State Planning Commission and Office of Planning Advocacy

The State Planning Commission, formed in 1986 by the State Planning Act, is a 17-member body charged with regularly revising the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, to provide a coordinated, integrated and comprehensive plan for the growth, development, renewal and conservation of the State and its regions and which shall identify areas for growth, agriculture, open space conservation and other appropriate designations.

The Office of Planning Advocacy, part of the New Jersey Business Action Center, is currently focused on the Plan Endorsement process for those municipalities that have expressed an interest in extending their Center designation. The office is also updating the Plan Endorsement process to improve its efficiency.

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