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Sierra Club Calls on Governor to Veto Dumb Growth Bill

Date : Wed, 24 Mar 2010 13:13:32 -0400

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Chapter Director, 609-558-9100

                                            Sierra Club Calls on Governor to Veto Dumb Growth Bill

The Sierra Club has formally requested that Governor Chris Christie veto the "Time of Decision" bill, which was passed earlier this month by the Assembly and Senate. The bill, S82/A437, alters the process exempting developers from changes in municipal ordinances and zoning. It will severely hinder the ability of municipalities to do sound land use planning.

The Club sent a letter on March 16 to the Governor, expressing concerns that the bill undermines the rights of citizens and local governments to protect natural resources and determine the future growth of their communities.

"This bill is simply another way for developers to get around the public process and override the voice of citizens in towns who are trying to do right thing by supporting smart growth and natural resource protection. The governor should veto this bill or New Jersey will turn into a developer oligarchy," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

Under the current law, developers must have preliminary approval, which includes a public hearing, on an application in order to be exempted. S82/A437 changes that and requires that developers only have to file an application to be exempted from changes in municipal rules or zoning. Incomplete or inaccurate applications would still be protected, allowing the builder immunity from any land use planning changes.

"S82/A437 is simply another attack on environmental protections and one more example that New Jersey is being handed over to the developers. All this bill will accomplish is more sprawl, more overdevelopment, more pollution, and higher property taxes. We urge you to veto this legislation and help communities uphold their ability to do smart planning and protect natural resources," the Club says in its letter to the Governor.

The purpose of the "Time of Decision" rule is to protect taxpayers and allow them to maintain municipal review by a governing body. It is not intended to be a hardship for developers.

"The developers say without this bill, there will be negative economic consequences. However, we believe instead of helping to improve New Jersey's economic climate, this bill will only serve as an impediment for our state's already struggling economy. S82/A437, which is being pushed by the builders, allows developers to file applications and then sit on them for years, even decades thanks to the recent renewal of the Permit Extension Act. This will not help our sluggish economy," the letter continues.

S82/A437 allows developers to file applications and then sit on them for years, even decades thanks to the recent renewal of the Permit Extension Act. Municipalities that attempt to redo the master plan or craft ordinances promoting smart growth and protecting natural resources will be blocked from making progress under this bill.

S82/A437 is the 11th out of 15 bills the builders have been pushing. This is simply another attack on environmental protections and another example that New Jersey is being handed over to the developers. All this bill will accomplish is more sprawl, more overdevelopment, more pollution, and higher property taxes.

This bill would prevent implementation of the State Plan, the Highlands Plan, Transit Villages, Cluster Development and changes in the Pinelands. Towns in the Highlands Planning Area are currently working to come into conformance with the Highlands Plan. But, under this bill, developers will only have to file an application first and they would in be in compliance with the Highlands Plan.

A copy of the letter is attached.

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

<http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

Received on 2010-03-24 10:13:32

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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