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State Strategic Plan Targets Environment

Date : Thu, 13 Sep 2012 12:38:16 -0400

For Immediate Release
September 13, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

State Strategic Plan Targets Environment

Hearing on Plan in Jersey City

Today Jersey City will host the last hearing on the Governor's State Strategic Plan.The Plan must be adopted within 30 days of this final hearing.There have been changes made to the State Strategic Plan, but they have not been announced to the public.The Sierra Club continues to oppose the Plan and believes it violates the State Planning Act and is the opposite of smart growth.The Office of Planning Advocacy and the State Planning Commission need to reject this Plan and go back to the drawing board.The plan needs to be rewritten as in its current form the Plan goes against good planning.

"The Strategic Plan is being attacked by some as interfering with local government and property rights.They are right but they are looking at it from the wrong direction.It is doing that to promote growth and overdevelopment and take the side of developers over good planning and environmental protections,"said Jeff Tittel, Director of the Sierra Club. This plan is part of the Governor's campaign to override environmental regulations and regional planning.The Strategic Plan channels growth into environmentally sensitive areas such as the Highlands and Pinelands, undercutting development in urban areas and redevelopment opportunities in our existing cities and towns.The Plan promotes sprawl and overdevelopment in our last remaining open spaces, which will mean more flooding, more pollution in water ways, more traffic and higher property taxes.

"Some people are defending the plan because it is under attack, but the Strategic Plan is not about smart growth and good planning.This Plan is nothing more than a plan to promote more sprawl and turn New Jersey over to special interests. The only thing Strategic about this plan is how it will turn the state over to developers at the expense of our cities and environment," said Jeff Tittel.

Jeff continued, "There are rules, regulations, and Executive Orders implementing this plan, but they are not even directly tied to the plan itself. This is not about planning this is about politics. The changes that will be made are window dressings and will not correct how bad the plan is. Now they are using these hearings as an excuse to push this plan through."

Sierra Club's Top Concerns:

  Violates State Planning Act-***The State Planning Act calls for the     protection of natural resources and open space and prioritizes     infill and redevelopment opportunities. The State Strategic Plan     trumps growth over resource protection.

  Opens State Up to Sprawl Growth*- The priority investment area     criteria would allow alternate growth areas to be added at any time     and is not limited. A developer could apply for this designation to     push a development the town does not want and has zoned to prevent.     The Plan turns entire rail lines, state and interstate highway     corridors, pipelines, and transmission lines into "growth     corridors". Land surrounding higher education campuses and areas     adjacent to existing or planned centers under the 2001 State Plan     would become priority growth areas, moving sprawl development past     the center limits into our open spaces and sensitive areas.

"Under this Plan, growth areas could be located anywhere from exits on highways, next to a college campus, along rail lines, or outside a designated center in a rural community.There is nothing strategic about this plan," said Jeff Tittel.

  Undercuts Urban Revitalization Efforts**- *The Plan takes away from     urban redevelopment and growth in the right places. Instead of     concentrating funding in our cities and redevelopment sites, we are     funding sprawl growth. Under this plan priority funding areas     include all of Planning Area 1 under the 2001 State Plan. Areas     like Rumson, Alpine, and Short Hills, three of the richest     communities in the United States, will become priority funding     areas. The Plan also requires that funding be driven by market     forces, so places like Camden, Newark, Paterson, and Trenton, which     are not considered market priorities, will not receive priority     investment area funding. The plan is actually subsidizing growth in     the suburbs and rural areas at the expensive of our cities.

"Since the plan has no criteria for priority growth areas, it will be open to pay-to-play and used to take care of politically connected developers.The plan will be used to justify projects like Xanadu and Encap instead of promoting development in our cities and towns," *said Jeff Tittel*.

  Plan Not Based on Science or Resource Capacity*- This Plan does not     look at local resource capacity to determine if there is available     water and sewer capacity to serve future developments.There is no     scientific basis for the plan, it is just about growth.

"Instead of science, analysis and public input planning New Jersey, it will be special interests behind closed doors determining the future of the state's land use policies,"said Jeff Tittel.

  Trumps Water Quality Management Rules***-- The Strategic Plan     claims these important rules for protecting water quality hinder the     ability of municipalities to have economic growth because they limit     development in environmentally sensitive areas such as critical     species habitat and watershed supply lands.

  Eliminates DEP Landscape Project *-The award winning Landscape     Project is an important environmental planning tool for outlining     sensitive areas. The Strategic Plan attacks the science behind the     mapping despite it being held up in court several times. The     administration wants to eliminate it because it is the basis for a     number of regulations including flood hazard areas, stream buffers,     sewers, wetlands, Highlands, Pinelands and habitat protections for     endangered species.

"The builders have been trying to get rid of the Water Quality Management Planning rules and the Landscape Project for years. They have tried in court, but lost. Now Governor Christie is using the Strategic Plan to eliminate the most important rules in New Jersey when it comes to protecting our land, air, and water,"said Tittel.

  Weakens Environmental Protections***- Under the Plan, economic     considerations would trump environmental protections and public     health. The Plan states that all agencies' plans and rules have to     promote economic growth even in conflict with the environment.

  Removes Non-growth Areas *- The State Planning Act prioritizes     protecting environmentally sensitive areas and targeting growth for     redevelopment, but the State Strategic Plan only includes growth     areas. The Strategic Plan eliminates Planning Areas 4 and 5, which     promote conservation of environmental and agricultural     resources.The priority preservation areas are mostly already     preserved lands and if not the municipality can could veto the     designation if they want growth to occur there, undermining the     acquisition of important lands for drinking water supply, threatened     and endangered species, and other environmental resources.

  Blocks Green Acres Funds***- Under this Plan if a town, county, or     even the Green Acres program wanted to buy a piece of property for     open space that was in a growth area they would not be able to get     Green Acres funding. The Green Acres acquisition plan and funding     mechanism would be subservient to the State Strategic Plan. Many of     our Green Acres acquisitions are parcels that were slated for     development and this would block those key acquisitions.

  Weakening Highlands and Pinelands**Protections *- In the Highlands     and Pinelands the "existing community areas" would be designated     growth areas under the Plan. The Strategic Plan could be used to     promote more development in the Highlands and Pinelands undermining     their Regional Master Plans, violating both those laws.The     Pinelands Commission is currently proposing changes to the Pinelands     Comprehensive Management Plan that would implement changes under the     Strategic Plan that require the CMP to meet the economic goals laid     out in the Strategic Plan.

"The Strategic Plan threatens the Highlands and Pinelands.The push for growth by the Christie administration could undo two of the most successful regional planning models in the country," said *Jeff Tittel.*

  Executive Order 78***-- This EO implementing the plan was signed     before the public even had a chance to review the plan's contents.     This EO takes the power away from the State Planning Commission, a     planning agency, and concentrates it in a new committee under the     Business Action Center, chaired by the Lieutenant Governor. This is     a continuation of Red Tape Review policies designed to weaken     standards and environmental protections.

Jeff Tittel*said,* "This has nothing to do with Agenda 21, this is about Century 21, turning New Jersey over to land speculators, developers and realtors and using the tax payers to subsidize sprawl and overdevelopment.Agenda 21 is a smokescreen being used by the administration to cover up that the purpose of the Strategic Plan is to take the side of special interest over the people of New Jersey.The plan will be used to cover up pay-to-play and taking care of politically connected developers."

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-09-13 09:38:16

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