Issue 399 January 21, 2003
Late Thursday, they unveiled
a map that clearly identifies growth zones, areas where uncontrolled growth
is undesirable and an intermediate zone where development should proceed
cautiously. About 2/3 of the state, excluding the already-protected
Pinelands, is in the red zone, where the state would like to discourage sprawl.
The green growth areas are focused mainly in the NY metro region, in Hudson,
Essex, Bergen, lower Passaic, eastern Morris, Union, northern Middlesex and
northern Monmouth Counties. The map defines smaller growth areas around Trenton
and along the Delaware facing Philadelphia. It also shows local growth areas
in key towns inside the primarily red zone. The yellow “caution” zone is
primarily a buffer between large red and green areas.
Though the map is a draft,
it would be difficult to make the issue of stopping sprawl more concrete
than actually mapping where growth is and is not desirable. The map is a
very strong early step by the McGreevey administration. It is the kind of
clear blueprint for policy debate and decisions that smart growth discussions
elsewhere — Long Island, for instance — so far lack.
“We’re going to make sure
that not a single dime is spent to subsidize growth there. It means
that the (transportation) projects that contribute to sprawl — lane widenings
and new roads — are going to be limited in these areas,” NJ environmental
protection commissioner Brad Campbell told the Star-Ledger.
The map appears to show
that the Turnpike Authority’s proposed Route 92 would run through mainly
red zones. NJ DOT’s plan to widen Route 15 in Sussex County is clearly deep
in a red zone. However, these projects are both in project pipelines, at
different stages of environmental review. Whether these and similar projects
in the pipeline move forward or are canceled by the state will be important
tests for NJ’s anti-sprawl transportation policy.
Other measures that may
go along with the map and directed infrastructure spending are tougher sewer
hookups in red zones and laws to: let towns charge developers for roads
and schools that growth requires; allow local governments to consider off-site
impacts of projects, permit municipalities to impose 1-year development
moratoriums and to give county planning entities more power.
It’s unclear how development
policy will be addressed in yellow “caution” zones.
The building industry criticized
the whole approach as allowing development “where no one wants to live.”
The sprawl lobby is said to be mobilizing heavily to combat McGreevey’s initiative.
Municipalities in sensitive areas said they should get state aid for foregoing
development. Editorial boards are generally behind McGreevey. While calling
for identification of more rural centers, the Star-Ledger endorsed the overall
thrust of the map. The Home News Tribune also backed the red/yellow/green
approach. Several pieces called for bolder action on tax reform, noting
the revenue chase that causes municipalities to embrace development in any
New land in New Jersey
is consumed at a rate of 50 acres/day, McGreevey said in Tuesday’s speech.
MTR #399 portable document format (PDF) file version
(requires Adobe Acrobat).
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