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Mar 4 (Wed), 7:00 pm
Film--The Highlands Rediscovered
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Final State Strategic Plan Delayed

Date : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 16:05:32 -0500

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100 Final State Strategic Plan Delayed*

/ /Today adoption of the State Strategic Plan was held by the State Planning Commission.This is an important delay as the final Plan was released Friday afternoon before a three day weekend.The Sierra Club has serious concerns with the Plan and significant changes were made to make the final document worse following the close of public comment.The Plan promotes development in areas that have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy.Instead of protecting people from storm surges and sea level rise, it actually puts more people at risk.Instead of channeling growth into existing areas it promotes growth in environmentally sensitive areas.It does nothing to address hazard or adaptation planning. The Plan actually encourages more development in Highlands, upstream of major flood prone areas.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.

"This Plan clearly violates the Highlands, Pinelands, and State Planning Act.If this Plan gets adopted in its current form we plan to challenge it in the courts.This plan ignores science, capacity planning, protection of natural resources, and sound planning.The plan promotes development in the wrong places and does nothing to protect people in the future from flooding, storm surges, sea level rise, and other consequences of climate change.We are glad the Plan was held today and hope significant changes are made before it comes before the Commission again,"said Jeff Tittel, Director of the Sierra Club. This plan actually promotes growth in areas that have just been devastated by Hurricane Sandy.It designates as priority and alternative growth areas places that are still feeling the aftermath of Sandy and feel time and time again the impacts of flooding.The plan does not exclude environmentally sensitive areas, but actually promotes growth there.Sea Bright, Mantoloking, Bound Brook, Little Ferry, Lincoln Park, Toms River, Seaside, and Wayne are all growth areas under the plan. There is no hazard planning or adaption planning to address storm surges and sea level rise.A study by Rutgers University four years ago found that given the storm surges as a result of climate change, 9% of New Jersey's land area could be under water.We should be increasing protections in those areas, not promoting more growth.Climate scientist and environmentalists have been worried for years about overdevelopment on barrier islands along our coasts, and this plan will make susceptible areas growth areas.The Strategic Plan also allows for key infrastructure to be sited in these vital areas, instead of being moved out of flood prone areas. Governor Christie stopped progress under previous administrations who had come forward with studies on adaptation to climate change and sea level rise including hazard planning.There were important reports and mapping about the Delaware Bay Shore and protecting critical infrastructure in the Meadowlands and Newark airport.Governor Christie eliminated the Office of Climate Change which played a role in the reports and now you cannot even find those reports on the DEP website.

"Instead of doing a better job in planning for sea level rise and storm surges, the Governor has actually stopped all the progress we made under other administrations.They eliminated the Office of Climate Change, downgraded the Division of Science to an Office, and either buried or hid the reports that were done on the impacts of sea level rise to New Jersey.They are doing this as cover so the public does not know what is happening and they can continue to weaken environmental protections," said Jeff Tittel. The Strategic Plan does not utilize updated flood maps from FEMA that show flood-prone areas in our state have increased.The administration has failed to upgrade to the more protective FEMA mapping and CAFRA standards because they do not want to limit development in those areas. By not fixing those maps people do not know they live in flood prone areas and do not get flood insurance, costing the tax payers more money.This Strategic Plan will now allow for more growth in those areas.

"Instead of trying to protect critical infrastructure and site it in safe locations, under this plan, our investments will be washed out to sea or flooded," said Jeff Tittel. The Strategic Plan targets growth around Barnegat Bay adding more pollution.The Governor does not have land use or addressing sea level rise as components in his 10 Point Plan for the Bay and now he promoting even more growth that will impact the health of the Bay. The Plan actually removes protections from the Barrier Islands.

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
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-11-15 13:05:32

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