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Economic Opportunism Act Passes Assembly

Date : Thu, 27 Jun 2013 21:19:31 -0400

For Immediate Release

June 27, 2013

Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

Economic Opportunism Act Passes Assembly

The Economic Opportunity Act S2583A3680 (LesniakCoutinho) passed the Assembly today with amendments.The bill was amended today but still targets some of our most environmentally sensitive areas, most critical areas for water supply, and last remaining open spaces.Minor changes include stopping a proposed exemption from preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for projects before the EDA (exemption from EO 215) and removing some farmland areas from the bill.However the legislation continues to target environmentally sensitive farmland, the Highlands and the Pinelands.

"This bill still targets the Highlands, Pinelands, and our last remaining open spaces.Amendments made the bill slightly less bad but it still targets key water supply areas and some of the most environmentally sensitive lands in the state," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the Sierra Club.

The bill now targets:

  • _Pinelands_villages and towns like Chatsworth and Tabernacle,
  • the entire _Highlands Planning Area_ even though two-thirds of
    that region is environmentally sensitive even 50 feet from Spruce
    Run Reservoir,

There are loopholes big enough to run bulldozers through for development State Planning Area (PA) 4A, PA 4B _Environmentally Sensitive Farmland_ and PA 5 _Environmentally Sensitive_

This bill will take economic growth, jobs, and housing opportunities away from existing cities, towns, and suburban areas and subsidize them on our last remaining open spaces, threatening our water supply and increasing flooding. The bill would subsidize development in some of the most important areas of the state for water supply- next to reservoirs, above water supply intakes, near aquifer recharge areas and well protection areas.This bill would subsidize sprawl development that will directly impact drinking water quality.

This bill will create more flooding and development in areas that were just destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.Further, the financing could be used for eminent domain and gentrification along the coast.

This bill will provide funding through tax payer subsidies for new developments proposed in sensitive areas.This bill hurts development in appropriate areas by subsidizing growth in rural areas, taking away jobs and resources from our cities and existing communities.

"This is nothing but sprawl-fare, corporate welfare subsidizing overdevelopment and paving over of environmentally sensitive areas,"
said Jeff Tittel.

Jeff continued,"This bill will end up undermining development in our cities by subsiding growth in our last remaining open spaces.As long as we subsidize development on green fields we are discouraging redevelopment projects on brown fields and in urban areas.Instead ofrebuilding our coast smarter and better, this bill could be used to subsidize eminent domain projects for politically connected developers where working families currently live."

Pinelands villages and towns should be taken out.It does not make sense to be promoting and funding growth in such rural and out of the way places.The Highlands should be removed entirely but at the very least only redevelopment projects or new developments on previously disturbed sites should be included.For example a portion of the BASF site can be funded where they have existing buildings and parking lots but the fundingshould not extend to undeveloped portions of the site.

"At a time when we need economic activity we need to promote that growth in the right places and not do it in the places that will hurt the environment and in the long term the economic viability of the state.We need to make sure we redevelop our cities and towns but not at the expense of our water supply and open spaces for future generations,"
said Jeff Tittel."Instead we should be targeting this money to urban areas and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, not the Highlands and Pinelands which protect us from flooding."

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2013-06-27 18:19:31

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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Page Last Modified 7/11/2013

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