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Kris
May 24th, 2003, 08:37 AM
May 24, 2003

New Jersey Is Running Out of Open Land It Can Build on

By LAURA MANSNERUS

GREENWICH TOWNSHIP, N.J. — New Jersey, far more densely populated than any other state — more crowded than Japan or India, for that matter — is on course for another distinction: it will be the first state, land-use experts say, to exhaust its supply of land available for development.

The prospect of running out of open space to build on, a phenomenon that planners call buildout, is at the heart of Gov. James E. McGreevey's well-publicized campaign against sprawl. In poll after poll, voters in this most suburban of states say they hate what they see, and elected officials on all levels have taken note.

Roughly two million of New Jersey's five million acres are developed, and a little over one million are protected by various levels of government. The state has promised to acquire or preserve enough land, including farmland, to bring the number of protected acres to two million by 2009. Some of the rest is unsuitable for development, leaving less than a million acres to be fought over. Since those estimates were made a few years ago, some of those acres have surely been developed.

The pace of suburban development is a powerful issue in many other states after a 10-year onslaught of building, but the political and economic tensions are especially raw here, where more people are scrambling over less open space. Builders accuse the governor of thwarting the American dream, environmentalists say builders will kill agriculture, and many towns try to avoid the costs of growth, like developing infrastructure and building schools, by zoning out housing that would bring in children.

The pattern in New Jersey is the very definition of sprawl: land consumption is increasing faster than the population is growing. As in other parts of the country, land is consumed three to four times faster than the population grows. "We're taking bigger bites with each wave of development," said Barbara Lawrence, the director of New Jersey Future, a land-use planning organization.

Some project that buildout will occur within 20 years, while New Jersey's population of 8.4 million is expected to grow by 1 million in that period, but other estimates are that buildout could take many more decades. The timing depends on population and employment growth, which can swerve wildly with the economy. Government could hasten buildout by putting more land off limits to development through environmental controls.

The debate now under way will determine whether the population will continue to spread across the landscape or become more concentrated in the cities and older suburbs. It will determine, in short, what a built-out state looks like.

New Jersey officials do not know how much land has been consumed since the last statewide land surveys, taken in the mid-1990's. Estimates range from 16,000 acres to more than 40,000 acres a year. Mr. McGreevey says the state is losing 50 acres a day to development, a figure that other state officials describe as conservative.

But the rate of consumption may have increased in the late 1990's, many land-use experts say, in a pattern entrenched across the nation. American appetites for space have put ever-smaller families onto ever-larger lots.

"In the '50's and '60's, a quarter of an acre was a lot, and half an acre was huge," said James W. Hughes, the dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. "Now it's one acre, three acres, five acres."

That change, Mr. Hughes said, portends self-perpetuating congestion. Each new resident, for example, adds 1.2 vehicles. "When you move into a McMansion you need three cars to fill your three-car garage," Mr. Hughes said, "and a big S.U.V. for the two snow days per year."

Each new resident spurs more commercial development, too. Since 1980, Mr. Hughes notes, retail space per capita has doubled and office space per capita has increased sixfold.

In northwestern New Jersey, Greenwich Township, bordering the Delaware River in the southern lobe of Warren County, was transformed by the completion of Interstate 78 and the office parks that came with it across the state from Newark. To look at the landscape here — say, from the road between the new Home Depot and the new Lowe's — is to see how New Jersey could quickly run out of real estate.

Splaying east and west on former farm fields are about 800 of the new houses that brought the population of Greenwich Township to 4,365 in 2000 from 1,899 in 1990, a 130 percent increase. A few miles north, off Route 57, big lumber skeletons are rising at the Grande at Scotts Mountain, a subdivision where the lots average 3.4 acres.

"This is supposed to be a scenic highway, but it's all for sale," said Mike King, the chairman of a civic group that is promoting development in the sagging town of Phillipsburg, near Greenwich Township, and is fighting it in the outlying townships.

Mr. McGreevey inherited a program that spends about $200 million a year to buy open space and preserve farmland, which he rolled into a bigger "smart growth" campaign to steer development to population centers, mostly by making it difficult elsewhere. He issued an edict last month to restrict building near 15 reservoirs, rivers and streams, halting several projects just days from construction, and state officials are working on what they call "the big map," delineating areas where they will impose restrictions on growth.

As for the governor, Mr. King said, "he's thinking all those right things, but it's later than he seems to realize."

Developers say they have been forced into rural areas as older suburbs, already built out, become prohibitively expensive. Even then, "we are not able to meet demand," said Joanne Harkins, the director of land use and planning for the New Jersey Builders Association. "When they open a new development we have waiting lists. Virtually everything is sold before it's built."

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 39 percent of New Jersey's land area was developed as of 1997, while the next on the list were far behind: Massachusetts and Rhode Island at 30 percent and Connecticut at 29 percent.

The department found that about 42,500 acres a year were developed from 1992 to 1997, the latest year for which figures were available. A 1995 survey by the state Department of Environmental Protection found a much lower rate of development, 16,000 to 18,000 acres a year, largely because it did not count open space attached to new buildings, like a wooded campus surrounding an office cluster, as developed.

The state is awaiting results of a new aerial survey and has compiled information from local governments, but those will not show thousands of projects that are in the pipeline.

Bradley M. Campbell, the state commissioner of environmental protection, said that when the aerial photographs are analyzed, "there's every reason to believe the rate will be higher" than the governor's estimate of 50 acres a day lost to development.

First, Mr. Campbell said, the recent trend — "a very grim pattern" — has been accelerating land consumption. Second, he said, rapid economic expansion occurred in the late 1990's. "Third," he said, "there's been no real effort to strengthen regulatory controls on development" until recently.

"What's as troubling as the pace of loss is the location," he added. About 40 percent of new development, he said, is in areas the state classifies as rural or environmentally sensitive.

Mr. Hughes at Rutgers is doubtful that one million new residents will materialize by 2020. In a state that has no room left for new highways, he said, development is self-limiting. "As congestion gets worse, and it's going to get worse, and as it becomes expensive, these inhibitors to growth are going to kick in."

But Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, estimates that "we'll hit buildout within 20 years" in all but Cumberland and Salem Counties, in the far south of the state.

"There could be some pieces left," Mr. Tittel said, "but they would be environmentally sensitive or just junk property."

Environmental regulation is the governor's main means of curbing development, since the guidelines in the State Development and Redevelopment Plan are voluntary. "The time you reach buildout depends on what kind of regulatory controls you have to protect water and wildlife," Mr. Campbell said. "If the right safeguards are in place, buildout may be sooner rather than later."

Developers, while not disputing that, say the administration's anti-growth measures threaten the housing that the state most needs. "When Mr. Campbell's done, there will be no place outside the ghettos for middle-income and low-income New Jerseyans," said Patrick J. O'Keefe, the chief executive of the builders association.

Joseph J. Maraziti Jr., a former chairman of the State Planning Commission, said that builders could see that as a new business model: redeveloping cities instead of expanding the suburbs. "The consensus is like none I've ever seen about revitalizing our cities."

But he added, "It's in our genes as a country that began as a colony. You don't get it out of your system fast — you should tame the land and expand. There's a lot of momentum behind the idea that goes back 300 years. It doesn't stop because of some speeches and legislation."


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

ZippyTheChimp
May 24th, 2003, 11:16 AM
Opponents of urban density, please take note.

Agglomeration
May 26th, 2003, 06:50 PM
So much for spreading out to outer lands away from big cities for land, privacy, and safety reasons :biggrin:.

NYatKNIGHT
May 27th, 2003, 02:07 PM
My brother lives in Hunterdon County, just 10 years ago the only thing out there were farms, woods, lovely rolling fields and vegetable stands. Now he is surrounded by giant houses on huge, huge lots. It's sad really - too few people gain from that kind of development.

Agglomeration
May 29th, 2003, 05:08 PM
It's sickening, really. This is one reason why these NIMBY's we have in the city are so corrosive. They're bitter that we even have row houses. If they could, they'd tear down all skyscrapers and systematically turn the city into an endless sea of one-family houses. I shudder to think how ecstatic they are when they hear about the spreading sea of houses across the metro area.

It's not just in North Jersey. We have the same sprawl eating away at the Hudson Valley, Long Island, and Southwest Connecticut. These NIMBY's must be jumping for joy. :angry:

(Edited by Agglomeration at 5:09 pm on May 29, 2003)

Kris
June 14th, 2003, 09:22 AM
June 14, 2003

Bear Season, and the Living's Uneasy

By ROBERT HANLEY

WEST MILFORD, N.J., June 13 — Soon after their dog was attacked by a black bear here in 1999, Susan and Lee Kuchenreuther put up floodlights to illuminate their backyard at night. The mayor, Robert Moshman, tries to keep bears from raiding his garbage cans by storing meat scraps in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until garbage-collection day. And the elementary schools have started bear-alert and bear-safety programs and have asked neighbors to call if they see a bear headed toward a school.

"It's part of the culture up here," the school superintendent, Robert Gilmartin, said of those tactics and, more generally, life with bears in this sprawling, densely wooded town only about 35 miles northwest of Midtown Manhattan.

Over the last decade, bears have become almost as much of a fixture here as squirrels are in more developed parts of suburbia. They roam routinely through backyards and sometimes along the edges of ball fields and school playgrounds, occasionally attacking dogs and pet rabbits and frightening people. In fact, two of the most notorious recent encounters in the state occurred here: On May 23, a bear bit a resident on the wrist and bicep and dislocated his shoulder after he tackled it as it was mauling his dog. On June 5, another resident shot a growling bear that had climbed onto the deck outside his log cabin home.

Yet as state fish and game officials consider holding the state's first bear hunt in 33 years, opinion on the issue is sharply divided in this bear mecca, whose prevailing policy toward its burly guests is one of careful accommodation.

After years of wary coexistence with the animals, many of West Milford's 26,000 residents have adopted habits that other suburbanites might see as a bit quirky, even alien.

Some keep air horns, firecrackers, whistles, pots and pans and makeshift sirens close at hand to frighten off bears that linger too long in a yard. Mothers, worried about bears, walk children to the bus stop each morning and belong to telephone chains to alert school officials if a bear heads toward a school.

State wildlife officials, in lectures and brochures, preach their gospel of "bear-proofing" a home by feeding pets indoors and taking down bird feeders before bears emerge from hibernation. Many residents store garbage in their basements or put it in locked garages or sheds until the morning of their weekly collection.

Others here have erected chain-link fences to separate their yards from adjacent forests. The manager of the local pet supply store reported recently that she had received two orders for electric fencing.

Like police officers in other parts of bear country in northern New Jersey, patrolmen here are trained to fire noisemakers or shoot rubber buckshot pellets at bears that return too frequently to unsheltered garbage cans.

"You have to constantly be on guard," Mr. Kuchenreuther said. "We're all wary and cautious and very aware that something can happen any day, any week, any time."

The bears are common here, officials say, because about 85 percent of West Milford's land area of about 80 square miles is undeveloped, most of it forested state parkland or protected watershed land.

State fish and game officials contend there are far too many bears in the woods and towns of northwestern New Jersey and have proposed a six-day hunt in early December — the state's first since 1970 — that would be open to 10,000 hunters.

But not all officials here are anti-bear. The Passaic County Board of Freeholders unanimously approved a resolution on Wednesday strongly opposing a hunt, calling it inhumane and ultimately ineffective in controlling the state's growing bear population.

In 2000, the West Milford Town Council voted against a state proposal for a hunt and helped build an anti-hunt crusade that prompted state officials to cancel it. Whether the Council will vote against the new proposal is unclear now because its membership is changing on June 30.

Mayor Moshman, who will leave office then, said the town's sentiment was about evenly split now. The mayor, who grew up in Brooklyn and moved here in 1984, opposes a hunt.

"When I see a bear, I'm in awe," he said. "They're not trying to have human encounters. They just want to get the garbage. Some people here feel very protective about bears. And then we have others that freak out."

Charles Kaszner, an advertising executive who moved here 20 years ago, also opposes a hunt. Many days, he said, a female bear and three cubs pass along his backyard and sometimes stop to drink from his pool. "They're majestic animals," he said.

Bears often raid the Dumpsters at the two Dunkin' Donuts shops in town and make off with bags of discarded doughnuts and empty yeast and syrup containers, employees said. Recently, a seven-foot stockade fence was installed around the Dumpster at one store. But bears climb the fence and throw the bags they want over it, employees said.

Despite the mess the bears make, most employees do not favor a hunt, said Kathy Treible, manager of one of the stores. "I feel bad for the bears," she said. "They have no place to go. We keep building and building and building."

A supporter of a hunt, Joseph Heisler was recovering from surgery several months ago and fell asleep in his backyard. He said he was awakened by a bear sniffing him. "I screamed, and he took off," Mr. Heisler said. A hunt, he said, is the only way to reduce the number of bears. "There's really no other way of doing it."

Reflecting the division in town, the West Milford residents involved in the two most recent encounters disagree on the issue of a hunt.

Rob Skrypek, who was bitten while protecting his dog, needed 19 stitches for his wounds and said he fully supported a hunt. "I'll be the first guy on line," he said. "Bears are beautiful to watch walking through the woods, but as beautiful as they are, it's downright dangerous now."

Mr. Skrypek, 35, said the bear either broke through or climbed over a six-foot chain-link fence he had installed around his yard because his children, Ashley, 3, and John, 18 months, play there.

Kristine Flynn said her husband, Patrick, shot a male bear about 30 minutes after she frightened away a female that was attracted, perhaps, by the smell of baking pork chops.

"He was growling and he was drooling and he seemed agitated," she said, adding that she and her daughter, Samantha, 2, were terrified. The next morning, state rangers found the wounded bear in the woods near the Flynn home and killed it.

But the tale does not end there for the Flynns. Officials from the state's Environmental Protection Department said that Mr. Flynn had shot the 400-pound bear as it was retreating from the house at a range of about 45 feet. He received a summons for illegally shooting a bear and faces a fine of up to $300.

Mrs. Flynn said her husband shot the bear when it was only 10 feet away, adding that at a distance of 45 feet, the bear would have been down a slope and out of sight of the house. The Flynns, who favor trapping and relocating bears, intend to fight the summons.

"It's so unbelievable we got this summons," Mrs. Flynn said. "The whole thing is just crazy now."


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

dbhstockton
June 14th, 2003, 01:25 PM
From the first article: *
"When Mr. Campbell's done, there will be no place outside the ghettos for middle-income and low-income New Jerseyans"

That's when gentrification begins. *There's been a lot of "urban renewal" in the past 40 years, obviously, but most of NJ's old urban centers a still quite forbidding to the mainstream middle-class American. *Hoboken, of course, is the most gentrified, with commuter colonies in Jersey City next on the list. *Newark, Camden, Paterson, Elizabeth and Trenton still have a long way to go. *Initiatives are underway (aren't they always) to capitalize on the excellent pre-existing transit infrastructure in these historic but frayed urban cores, and bring in more people. *It's going to be the last untapped real estate frontier in NJ. *

Lower income families better watch their rent. *All it takes is one feature in the real estate section of the NY Times, and it's all over.

Kris
September 19th, 2003, 12:36 AM
September 19, 2003

Bears Root Through Garbage, Then Roil Politics

By ROBERT HANLEY

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/09/19/nyregion/19bear.184.jpg
A bear in West Milford Township, N.J., where some encounters with bears have been uncomfortably close, including one in which a man was injured.

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, N.J., Sept. 17 — Outside the Town Hall here, a mother bear rummaged happily through the trash in a dark blue Dumpster tonight as two of her cubs sat on one of the lids.

Inside the hall, about a half hour later, the Town Council sorted through a thorny issue facing Jefferson and five neighboring towns in northwestern New Jersey: whether to approve a hunt in December aimed at reducing an estimated population of 1,350 to 3,300 black bears roaming the wooded hills and growing subdivisions in this rural area.

In the end, after police officers shooed the bears away as they do most evenings, the Council voted 4 to 1 to endorse New Jersey's first black bear hunt in 33 years. But even after the vote, council members still debated alternatives to a hunt and ways to balance the risks of living too close to bears with the prospect of gunning them down.

Bears are increasingly a part of life here and in neighboring towns, roaming out of the dense woods in the watershed of Newark's reservoirs, and wandering down streets and through yards.

This summer, some encounters have been nasty. On Tuesday in nearby Vernon Township, a 3-year-old female bear invaded one home twice, and was shot and killed by a police officer as it emerged from its second visit. In May, in neighboring West Milford Township, a bear attacked and injured a man who had tackled the bear as it fought with his dog. Another West Milford man shot a large male bear moments after it stood, growling, at his door.

Until now, in towns like this one the bears have largely been a public safety issue. Now, because of a decision made in Newark, a place where the only bears play minor league baseball, the issue is a political one. Newark, which owns 35,000 acres of watershed in the heart of bear terrain, has said it will allow hunting only on the watershed lands in towns that endorse the hunt. So residents and politicians are noisily debating whether to allow the hunt, on Dec. 8 to 13.

Political pressures are intensifying and the rift between supporters and opponents of the hunt is deepening inside and beyond the hunt zone, bounded by Interstate 287 in the east, Interstate 78 in the south, the Delaware River in the west and New York in the north.

State officials contend that some of the area's most troublesome bears live in the watershed's deep woods. They say hunting in the watershed is critical to their goal of reducing the number of bears in it. Earlier this month, state officials say, they were told that Newark might bar bear hunting in the watershed. That set off some political maneuvering that has rippled out to Jefferson and the five other towns in the watershed.

In a Sept. 4 letter to the watershed agency, Larry Herrighty, chief of the state's Bureau of Wildlife Management, said homeowners in the six watershed towns made 838 nuisance complaints about bears from January 2001 to May 2003.

"If the watershed is not open for bear hunting, it essentially will become a sanctuary, severely restricting our ability to harvest bears that utilize the watershed as part of their home range," Mr. Herrighty wrote.

In response to the letter, Zinnerford Smith, executive director of the watershed agency, the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation, wrote to officials in Jefferson, Vernon, West Milford, and three other watershed towns, Hardyston Township, Kinnelon and Rockaway Township, saying Newark would permit the hunt in the watershed, except in any of the six towns that opposed the hunt on its portion of the watershed.

But the decision has not been easy. Even after approving the hunt, Jefferson's council members talked about other possible solutions.

Councilman Robert Birmingham mentioned hiring sharpshooters. The council vice president, Debi Merz, called for antihunting buffers near homes. The council president, Richard W. Yocum, the lone opponent of the hunt, stressed ways to keep bears away from garbage, like locks on Dumpsters, including the one outside Town Hall.

None of the six towns have objected yet to the hunt. Most have made conditional endorsements, perhaps reflecting the political divisions the hunt has created among residents.

Jefferson residents who live just south of the watershed are split over the hunt. They say they see bears frequently in the neighborhood, walking through yards, eating fallen acorns and crab apples, wandering near the beach on a little neighborhood lake, and getting into garbage cans. But, they say, the bears have not threatened anyone in the neighborhood or posed serious problems.

Maryellen McLeod said she favored the hunt. "They're getting to be real comfortable around people, and that could be a dangerous thing," she said.

Barbara Haug opposes it. "They were here first, and we're taking their space," she said. She added with a laugh, "Maybe they should have a people hunt."

Another opponent, Charlotte Bayley, said: "Bears are part of nature. They're here looking for survival. I'd rather get rid of squirrels. They're more brazen than bears."


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Ninjahedge
September 24th, 2003, 10:14 AM
I am reading a lot of people complaining about the large amount of land being developed and the fact that people want large plots of land in order to live on, but what I do not hear is the reverse.

Places like Oakland NJ have had HUGE developments of overcrowded row houses squeezed on land that was once a boy-scout camp. (Population went up by almost 50% in 5 years after development...)

One family houses placed together so close you can touch two of them by holding out your arms.

Now, although I don't like the idea of sprawl, I am further objectionable to Urban Cramming. People from NYC with NO CLUE about what a "yard" is wanting to spend the money they got during a very prosperous time coming out and seeing things like a Picnic Table in the back "yard" and thinking that that is huge.

I think that we should make it very difficult to build out all the land in NJ, but we should also concentrate on making it difficult to overbuild.

I see no problem with a 5 acre lot, so long as they don't build it all in the Ramapo Reservation to do it (THAT development REALLY irritates me. Nice houses, but the lazy developers chopped down ALL the trees to put them in, THEN they planted a few new ones...)

Oh, thing that gets me is the whole bear thing too. People complain about the bears in their back yard, but we were the ones that moved into THEIR back yard, why are we so surprised that they come around?

ZippyTheChimp
September 25th, 2003, 07:49 AM
think that we should make it very difficult to build out all the land in NJ, but we should also concentrate on making it difficult to overbuild.

That's a paradox that can only be solved by population control.

Kris
October 21st, 2003, 01:15 AM
October 21, 2003

War on Sprawl in New Jersey Hits a Wall

By IVER PETERSON

TRENTON, Oct. 20 — Nine months after Gov. James E. McGreevey promised to wage the nation's toughest anti-sprawl campaign in its most crowded state, his bold growth-control proposals are all but in tatters.

The governor and his staff conceded in recent interviews that a divided Legislature and opposition from builders made it pointless to introduce the most far-reaching anti-sprawl laws he outlined in a fiery State of the State address in January, when he vowed to take on "those who profit from the strip malls and McMansions."

Instead, Mr. McGreevey, a Democrat in his first term as governor, will focus on less controversial legislative and regulatory changes.

And on Friday, the administration abandoned the BIG map, for Blueprint for Intelligent Growth, which had divided the state into areas open for more growth, some growth and no growth. Those elements will be absorbed into another plan, officials said.

Controlling sprawl in New Jersey is a universally popular idea in the abstract but becomes politically fraught when it comes to telling builders where to build, towns how to zone, and residents where they can live.

"Everyone's against sprawl, but the problem is they also live in it," said Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter. "It's sort of like being in traffic, where it's the guy next to me who is the problem, not me."

Besides Mr. McGreevey's largely abandoned legislative agenda, the BIG map represented an effort to create a statewide development plan, with regions delineated in green, yellow and red to designate areas for growth, little growth and no growth.

On the Department of Environmental Protection's anti-sprawl Web site on Monday, a message read in part, "To avoid confusion and misinterpretations, while further revisions are considered, the BIG map has been removed."

The New Jersey Builders Association, the governor's strongest opponent in his growth management campaign, liked to call the abandoned BIG map the Big Red Map, after the large areas that it placed off-limits.

"The D.E.P.'s inconsistency regarding the Big Red Map is symptomatic of the broader disarray that characterizes the administration's policies with respect to planning for New Jersey's future and the housing needs of its families," said Patrick J. O'Keefe, chief executive of the builders' association.

But Bradley M. Campbell, the commissioner of environmental protection, defended the decision and said the governor was not retreating from his campaign to manage growth.

"This is not a retreat at all," Mr. Campbell said in an interview. "In fact, it is another step forward we are taking."

Mr. Campbell said the BIG map's environmental protection data on endangered species and watershed protection areas would be incorporated in the 11-year state plan, which spells out growth management objectives on a county-by-county basis.

"This was our stated objective from the outset," Mr. Campbell said. "That message was simply drowned out by the builders, but we achieved what we said we were going to do all along. The builders just spent the last nine months on what really has been a red herring."

The governor's legislative agenda, spelled out in January and again in March, has less of a future, at least for now, officials said.

In his earlier speeches, Mr. McGreevey said he would introduce new land-use laws to let municipalities charge builders for even the cost of their construction away from the site, on school capacity and roads.

Another law was to give municipalities the power to block developments that they deemed did not meet local long-term goals for traffic.

Yet another widely discussed notion was to allow towns to spread out development over long periods, to reduce the impact of sudden population growth on schools, roads and services.

"We're not talking about that anymore," a staff member said.

All that remains of Mr. McGreevey's legislative agenda are a noncontroversial proposal to help farmers sell development rights, giving the developer who pays for them a bigger project somewhere else, and possibly one allowing towns to charge developers additional fees.

These proposals will probably be introduced in January, when the Legislature returns after next month's elections for a lame-duck session, the governor said last week.

Mr. McGreevey's policies have had some significant impacts.

He has used his environmental regulatory powers to close 7,865 acres around reservoirs to development, and to impose buffers along 69 miles of rivers and streams.

Mr. McGreevey also won legislative approval of three public referendum questions for the Nov. 4 election. One would increase state borrowing to buy open space, another would help pay to clean up polluted industrial sites for redevelopment, and a third would speed up repairs of public parks, waterways and dams.

In pressing to go beyond these measures, however, the governor encountered considerable resistance.

"We spent two or three months working with the stakeholders for a consensus, and we couldn't get an agreement," a McGreevey official concerned with land-use issues said on the condition of anonymity. "Second, the Legislature has no appetite for this. Zero."

The Legislature's reluctance to take on far-reaching changes in land-use laws in an election year, when builders contribute heavily to campaigns, has left the governor's staff members with sour feelings toward the lawmakers.

"I don't think anyone was under any illusion that the Legislature was not and is not under the thrall of the builders' lobby to a large extent," a different McGreevey official said, also on the condition of anonymity.

But many legislators maintain that Mr. McGreevey oversold his anti-sprawl campaign, and particularly erred in singling out developers for public criticism in his State of the State address. The builders' association played his speech over and over on television monitors at its Atlantic City convention shortly afterward.

"I think the governor probably went too far in the State of the State to demonize home builders and office park builders, as if they were somehow the cause of our problems here in New Jersey," said State Senator John H. Adler, a Cherry Hill Democrat. "I think he was trying to galvanize public support, but I think his rhetoric got a little bit ahead of him."

The governor, in an interview last week, seemed to agree.

"Maybe the rhetoric got a little overheated," Mr. McGreevey said, "but we had to motivate people for change."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Kris
March 23rd, 2004, 12:35 AM
March 23, 2004

Trenton Eases Local Efforts to Preserve Open Space

By LAURA MANSNERUS

TRENTON, March 22 - The New Jersey Legislature gave final approval on Monday to a measure giving local governments the authority to preserve open space and farmland, which few can afford to buy, by transferring development rights instead.

A spokesman for Gov. James E. McGreevey said he would sign the bill, which he had advocated as part of his campaign to curb sprawl.

Despite the popularity of land preservation programs, governments at all levels have been hard pressed to meet soaring land costs, especially in the semirural areas of New Jersey that are most sought-after by developers. Municipal governments are usually unable to restrict building without compensating the owners of land who would otherwise be able to sell it to the highest bidder.

The new legislation would let towns transfer development rights from farms and undeveloped areas by setting up a bank that would compensate owners for giving up their rights to sell to developers. Developers could buy the rights, which would allow them to build more in already-developed areas.

The towns would have to designate the areas that would be preserved for development and those areas where people could build on by using their development rights.

After the State Senate approved the measure in a 37-to-2 vote on Monday, Mr. McGreevey's press secretary, Micah Rasmussen, said: "Towns have been powerless up until this point. If they tried it, they wound up in court."

"Overdevelopment is one of the issues that the governor hears about most when he talks to local mayors," Mr. Rasmussen said.

New Jersey has an ambitious plan to acquire or protect land through a fund of more than $1 billion set up in 1999, financed through general revenues, to carry out Gov. Christie Whitman's plan to save one million acres, or about one-fifth of its land area.

But from 1998 to 2002, the per-acre price of farmland rose 54 percent, and the price of other undeveloped land rose 79 percent, according to New Jersey Future, a nonprofit land-use organization that opposes sprawl. The organization estimates that the state loses 18,000 acres a year to development.

New Jersey Future sought the legislation for years, and Barbara Lawrence, the group's director, said, "I hope it breaks the logjam that has held up planning legislation since the 1980's."

Ms. Lawrence said a mechanism for transferring development rights was especially important to efforts to preserve the Highlands, an area of about 750,000 acres in northwestern New Jersey that provides much of the state's drinking water.

Programs involving the transfer of development rights have been set up on a limited basis in some other states, including New York and Pennsylvania, and in the New Jersey Pinelands, where land use is governed by state regulations.

New Jersey started a demonstration program in Burlington County in 1989, authorizing towns there to redraw their plans and use development rights banks.

Philip B. Caton, a planner who has worked with one of them, Chesterfield Township, said more than 2,000 acres had been preserved through the program.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

AJphx
April 9th, 2004, 05:02 AM
It would be great to start protecting large areas of land as simply 'rural' area and farmland.

As far as the developed area of New Jersey goes, I'm wondering how much of it is actually large parking lots and abandoned grass fields......

TLOZ Link5
April 9th, 2004, 08:48 AM
It would be great to start protecting large areas of land as simply 'rural' area and farmland.

As far as the developed area of New Jersey goes, I'm wondering how much of it is actually large parking lots and abandoned grass fields......

Oooh, good point.

Ninjahedge
April 12th, 2004, 09:50 AM
Um, a lot.

We are talking about areas that people want.

It is just like saying "I wonder how many areas of Queens and Brooklyn are run down ex warehouse and industrial districts" when people are scrambling looking for a place, and affordable place, to live in close enough to NYC.

I got a similar reaction from my GF looking at the parking lot space that was being used at the Garden State Plaza. She could not believe in all the parking that was needed. But, as I pointed out, that lot gets FULL on weekends. They built an additional parking garage next to it, and IT gets full. During peak shopping (Black Friday) they park on the grass all the way out to the highway.

The need is strong.

But anyway, back to the grasslands comment. You would be surprised. they are starting to build EVERYWHERE now. The Jersey Shore would be a good example. Go down into these communities that used to be the inexpensive places that the shore's buisnes owners and employees used to live in. Construction down there exploded and now it is hard to find anything affordable that has ANY connection to NYC and the surrounding area.

Also look at the SWAMPLAND around the meadowlands. This is area that is being fought for by the EPA, but yet this "desirable" land is under proposal for a HUGE mall to service, mostly, NYC residents that don't want to drive to Woodbury Commons to go shopping.

I guess what I am saying is that even though you see a lot of area that is undeveloped in NJ, most of it is that way because it is too far away from anything to be even slightly marketable. But even in my lifetime I have seen a LOT of the wilderness and farmland developed with less than desirable housing units or full developments and I think a buffer is needed before community greed (councle seats, etc) overrides long term community health.

Kris
April 21st, 2004, 02:04 AM
April 21, 2004

For New Jersey Towns, an Experiment: Putting Growth Here, Not There

By IVER PETERSON

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2004/04/21/nyregion/21sprawl.jpg
Larry Durry, a farmer, sold the development rights to some of his land in a new antisprawl system being tested in New Jersey.

CHESTERFIELD, N.J., April 20 - Larry Durry is a New Jersey farmer, and as any farmer would, he opposed a plan to restrict housing developments here in his town. After all, housing is usually the last and most profitable crop a suburban farmer like Mr. Durry will raise in his fields.

But after generations of trying and failing to control growth, the state whose very name stands for sprawl has been experimenting with a plan that has promised to save farmland, meet the demand for new housing and still provide that retirement payout for landowners like Mr. Durry. In fact, he is now one of the new zoning rule's biggest proponents, even though no new houses will ever appear on his land.

"I just wanted to be sure it would be fair," he said, "and it was."

The program that sold itself to Mr. Durry has a sleep-inducing name, the transfer of development rights system, although a better term would be the sale of development rights. Like the old practice of transferring air rights, or height limits, to tall buildings from short ones in New York City, the system allows municipalities to designate where their growth will be. Developers can then increase the number of dwellings in their projects - and their profits - by transferring housing credits assigned to open land, like Mr. Durry's, bought from owners whose land lies outside the designated growth zone.

With the state's population expected to grow by 750,000 and 1 million people by the next generation, planners believe that development pressure will eat up all the state's developable land. Early successes in the transfer of development rights in Burlington County are being watched as a possible model for land policy for the state's remaining large rural areas, and particularly for the towns in the Highlands, the hilly countryside in the state's northwest.

Here in Burlington County, where the widening rings of sprawl from New York City and Philadelphia have begun to overlap, the towns of Chesterfield and Lumberton are working with a transfer system authorized with special state legislation enacted in 1989. The early signs of success helped Gov. James E. McGreevey win his first legislative antisprawl victory last month with the passage of a bill permitting development rights transfers statewide.

''One thing that the McGreevey administration has done is, they realize that we're running out of land," Bill Dressell, director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, said in an interview two weeks ago. "And unless we start annexing parts of Pennsylvania or New York, or backfilling the Atlantic, we are going to run out of room.''

For still-rural towns like Chesterfield, the traditional way to control growth has been to zone for large lots - four or five acres per dwelling, said Susan E. Craft, Burlington County's farmland preservation specialist. But now so many people are willing to buy those huge boxes on treeless plains that large-lot zoning no longer protects against development. Open acreage in rural counties like this one is quickly being eaten up, Ms. Craft said.

But trying to force housing into smaller lots by zoning is also unfair, Ms. Craft added, creating winners out of owners of land zoned for housing and dashing hopes of those whose land is zoned to remain undeveloped.

"That's the problem with zoning," Ms. Craft said. "With a stroke of a pen, one landowner is a billionaire and the other guy is wiped out."

Traditional zoning, she said, also tends to be unstable. One administration may impose its zoning, but its work is often undone by new officials. Chesterton approached its transfer system with the calculation that 1,200 houses were headed its way under its current, large-lot zoning system. Rather than buying up the land itself or waiting for those houses to spread across the landscape, the town created a 560-acre "receiving area" into which all of the new growth would be forced.

That left most of the township's remaining 21 square miles, the "sending area," largely undeveloped.

The plan overcomes the inequity such a system would normally impose on landowners in preservation areas by giving them a credit for each house they were entitled to build under the existing zoning. So an owner of 25 developable acres in a five-acre zone would be given five credits to sell, often with fractions awarded for incomplete parcels.

Developers in the receiving area then buy those credits, each one giving the builder the right to build one or more additional dwellings in the receiving zone, depending on the size of the home.

"Transfers of development rights brings that windfall-and-wipeout scenario you get from zoning into balance," said Ms. Craft, ''because the landowner in the sending area and the receiving area each have something to sell."

Chesterfield is using the system to plan a new community from scratch. Lumberton, in southern Burlington County, however, has focused on pushing new development, mostly of single-family homes, into already built-up areas, where roads and sewer connections are easier and cheaper to make.

Although the landscape in Lumberton looks like any growing community's - a mix of new housing and fields - Dewitt Pennypacker, a member of the Town Council, could point out many remaining fields that would never be developed.

"We have preserved 850 acres at no cost to ourselves - the developers have paid that cost," he said. "Other towns around us have had to borrow millions of dollars to do the same thing by buying the land."

One piece of Mr. Durry's farmland in Chesterfield was worth 6.25 credits, which he sold for about $23,000 each (although the prices for credits has increased to close to $30,000 now that the first houses are up in the new development there, Old York Village). The credits ended up in a 400-unit development that will be built in the receiving zone by the K. Hovnanian Companies, New Jersey's biggest home builder.

Bradley N. Haber, director of land acquisitions for Hovnanian, said he still has concerns about the transfer system, including the possibility of a scarcity of credits - if landowners hold out, for example.

But Mr. Haber also found the exhaustive planning and municipal cooperation that are key features of the transfer system a nice surprise. Normally, the first developer on a big project foots the bill for the costs of the parkways and boulevards that run through a development, for example, then tries to collect from later arrivals, he said. But under the new system, those costs are apportioned to each housing unit from the beginning.

The town of Chesterfield also arranged for sewer and water for all of Old York Village from the outset, eliminating one of a developer's greatest headaches.

Old York Village's design, by the Trenton firm of Clarke Caton Hintz, won an American Planning Council award for its New Urbanism village style, with houses on narrow lots built close together, many with alleyways in back to keep cars and garbage collection off the streets. It will have its own downtown commercial area of shops, and parks, churches and an elementary school within walking distance for many children.

"And every time a house goes up in Old York Village, you know that there are five or six acres out in the agricultural area that are being preserved," said Philip B. Caton, the principal planner. He figured the village would be built and occupied in 5 to 10 years, depending on the housing market. And besides saving open space, the compact design makes running a municipality cheaper.

"If you know where your growth is going to occur, you can design your streets and your other services - water, schools, police stations - too," said Mr. Dressell, director of the League of Municipalities. "Garbage collection on a per-unit basis goes way down if all your people are in one place."

Still, as critics point out, buying up farmland, while expensive, at least allows municipalities to block growth. Allowing landowners to transfer development rights only manages it.

"You're solving the problem of protecting farmland, but you're not controlling population and the taxes and the traffic associated with development," said Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, an environmental group. A transfer system has been used to save a part of the Pine Barrens.

"Here on Long Island, no matter what the social goal, whether to preserve farmland, increase affordable housing or preserve the watershed, the developer's solution is, 'Let us build more houses,' " Mr. Amper went on. "Well, sometimes it is over development itself that has created all of these problems, and you do not solve them by continuing to let them build more houses."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Kris
June 14th, 2004, 11:27 PM
June 15, 2004

Second Part of Land Deal Speeds Up Development

By DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI

TRENTON, June 14 - Three days after legislators approved a landmark plan to preserve 400,000 acres near many sources of drinking water in North Jersey, lawmakers have unveiled the other part of that deal: a proposal that would significantly speed development on more than a third of the state's vacant land.

The new initiative, which was introduced and adopted by committees in the Senate and General Assembly on Monday, would streamline the building-permit process in much of the state by granting developers automatic approval of zoning or environmental applications that are still undecided after 45 days.

The plan would also appoint a special ombudsman to help builders who feel they are being bogged down by the Department of Environmental Protection or other agencies.

Supporters of the proposal say it will help fight suburban sprawl and speed the process of urban revitalization by giving state officials the means to encourage development in blighted cities and other areas.

"This is about cutting through red tape," said Micah Rasmussen, a spokesman for Gov. James E. McGreevey. "This doesn't weaken any environmental regulations whatsoever. It allows us to enforce our existing laws more efficiently."

Environmentalists, though, were angered that the plan made such far-reaching concessions to the builders' lobby. It was prepared during the past month as Governor McGreevey's aides desperately tried to win Democratic support for a bill to preserve land near the rivers and reservoirs of the state's Highlands region.

David Pringle, program director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said he would have opposed the Highlands bill if he had known the tradeoff would be so costly. He said the new rules would allow builders to sidestep much of the state's environmental code.

Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said he planned to challenge the plan in court, saying it violates federal environmental law and does not give the public enough opportunity to review building plans.

"This kind of legislation was rejected by Ronald Reagan and abandoned by Newt Gingrich," Mr. Tittel said. "This will give New Jersey the worst environmental rules anywhere in the country. Our neighborhoods will see more toxic waste, pollution into their drinking water and rivers, and loss of open space than ever before."

Suburban sprawl and environmental protection are highly emotional issues in New Jersey, which is both the nation's most densely populated state and home to a high number of industrial waste sites.

Mr. Rasmussen, the governor's spokesman, said the new rules, which Democrats have called the "smart growth" regulations, are also environmentally friendly because they balance the concerns of preservationists with the need for new housing and urban redevelopment. Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, the Democratic lawmaker who blocked the Highlands bill until the administration agreed to support the proposal to speed up permits, said the plan would also ease property taxes in some communities by allowing development to create new sources of municipal tax revenue.

The New Jersey Builders Association and a variety of other construction groups welcomed the bill, saying it would help make sense of a permitting process that has driven up housing costs by creating a maze of time-consuming and expensive bureaucratic delays. John B. Canuso Sr. said the new regulations would allow construction companies to provide housing at a reasonable price.

"When you have the developers putting money on the street to plan, the farmers who want to sell their properties and the towns who need new tax revenue, you need predictability," said Mr. Canuso, who runs a construction company in Haddonfield.

The regulations would apply to large swaths of land identified in the state's master planning map. Although supporters said the bill would focus on redeveloping urban communities, environmentalists insist that it will also lead to accelerated building in rural areas and suburbs.

"This bill is packaged and presented as a smart growth bill but it is no such thing," said Dena Mottola, executive director of the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group. "It will increase sprawl in towns already overburdened with overdevelopment."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


The Battle to Save the Highlands (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?t=3116)

Kris
June 18th, 2004, 01:15 AM
June 18, 2004

Restrictions on Building Eased in Parts of New Jersey

By LAURA MANSNERUS

TRENTON, June 17 - While environmental advocates lobbied frantically to stop them, New Jersey legislators approved a bill Thursday that would expedite approval of development in more than one-third of the state. The bill moved with startling speed; introduced three days earlier, it sailed through both houses after leaders struck deals to vote without debate.

The measure speeds the building-permit process in areas already designated by the state as suitable for development, including most of northeastern New Jersey and the New Jersey Turnpike corridor. It also provides for a state "smart-growth" ombudsman with effective veto power over proposed environmental regulations, and representatives in key state agencies to address builders' complaints.

The bill was the price exacted for the legislation protecting the New Jersey Highlands, which was hailed as a triumph of environmental preservation when the Legislature approved it just last week.

Gov. James E. McGreevey, who has cast himself as an antisprawl champion, has had notoriously bad relations with builders. But when a handful of fellow Democrats advocating development projects held up his Highlands bill, he agreed to streamline the permit process. On Thursday afternoon, he twisted arms to get the needed votes.

Meanwhile, the environmental advocates who were rejoicing a week ago protested that they had been betrayed.

"This bill was worse than we ever imagined," said Douglas O'Malley of the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, joining colleagues outside the governor's office. "We would not have supported the Highlands bill if we knew about this bill."

Amy Goldsmith, the executive director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said, "No deal was worth the destruction of 30 years of environmental progress in this state."

But the bill's proponents said they were just encouraging builders in developed areas. "The status quo has not given us smart growth," said Micah Rasmussen, the governor's press secretary. "Half of smart growth is telling builders where they can't build, which we have been doing for two and a half years, and the other half is telling them where they should build."

Jim Sinclair, the first vice president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said the bill was "an important economic development tool, particularly in cities and older suburbs." Mr. Sinclair added: "We still have to meet all the state requirements. This just takes us out of the never-never-land of the permitting process."

The areas covered by the bill are designated in the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, which divides the state into five categories, from urban to environmentally sensitive. The bill applies to those designated urban and suburban, although much of the acreage is still undeveloped.

The plan requires a state agency, in most cases the Department of Environmental Protection, to act on permit applications within 90 days; if it does not, a permit is automatically approved. It also allows a builder to hire a consultant, to be registered with the state, to certify that the application meets state law.

Local zoning and planning ordinances and local decisions on building permits would not be affected.

Environmental groups strongly opposed the permit measures. Most said they were disturbed by the appointment of an ombudsman with wide-reaching authority. The ombudsman may not only expedite permit approvals, but may also veto proposed environmental regulations he deems inconsistent with the state plan.

Jeff Tittel, the executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the organization's board had authorized a court challenge to the legislation,. The federal Environmental Protection Agency also raised concerns. Jane M. Kenny, the agency's regional director, who oversaw the New Jersey state planning office when she was a cabinet member under Gov. Christie Whitman, said in a letter to Mr. McGreevey that some provisions "could contravene a variety of federal permitting requirements, which the state is required to follow."

Environmental advocates said they knew the Highlands plan would require trade-offs but were taken by surprise when the new bill materialized within days.

"The only place there was going to be any debate was on the floor of the Legislature, and they cut that off, " Ms. Goldsmith said.

The Senate vote was 26 to 10, with 4 abstentions. The Assembly vote was 47 to 25, with 2 abstentions. The votes did not follow party lines.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Kris
June 19th, 2004, 10:27 AM
June 19, 2004

New Jersey Blocks Off Highlands, but Eases Other Rules for Builders

By DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI and LAURA MANSNERUS

TRENTON, N.J., June 18 - In the course of a single week, New Jersey lawmakers approved two vastly different bills that could drastically alter the state's landscape for generations to come.

Seeking to stake out the kind of environmental issue he can claim as his legacy, Gov. James E. McGreevey won approval of a bill last Thursday that would protect much of the state's drinking water by limiting development in a 400,000-acre section of northwest New Jersey known as the Highlands.

But the price he paid to win approval of the Highlands initiative, a bill that would streamline the building permit process in much of the state, is likely to speed the pace of construction in huge swaths of the suburbs. Environmentalists were infuriated that those new regulations were rushed through the Legislature Thursday and warned that they would bring increased traffic congestion, pollution and suburban sprawl. The fact that the bill was passed just three days after it was introduced and that legislative leaders did not allow a floor debate was a stunning display of the construction lobby's political muscle.

Mr. McGreevey and Democratic legislative leaders insist that the two plans, taken as a whole, represent a sensible balance between conservation and regulated growth.

"If we're going to stop development in the Highlands, stop desiccating our farms and open space and our suburban and urban parks, then we need to encourage it elsewhere, in targeted areas and inner-city areas in need of redevelopment," the governor said.

But conservationists insist that the new rules will give New Jersey some of the most lax regulations in the nation and will lead to increased building in overdeveloped areas like Bergen County and the suburbs along Route 1 between Newark and Trenton.

Many legal experts say the rules are so lax, in fact, that they are not likely to withstand legal challenges.

"This is the worst piece of environmental legislation I've seen in New Jersey in 35 years," said Edward Lloyd, director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Columbia Law School. "People in New Jersey care a lot about the environment, and usually there is strong support for the environment in both parties. And this is a failure."

The key to understanding the vast scale of the proposals is the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, which was devised 12 years ago in an attempt to preserve the dwindling amount of open space around the state and halt the unplanned proliferation of strip malls and subdivisions.

The new legislation allows expedited state approvals for developers in areas that the state plan designates as metropolitan or suburban. It also provides for such approvals in smaller nodes around towns in rural areas. The new law would affect not just highly developed suburban communities like Princeton, but also the outskirts of remote towns like Sparta.

It is not clear exactly how much of that territory is available to builders; as of 2001, the state plan said that of 543,000 acres classified as suburban, 206,000 were "unprotected and undeveloped" while 23,000 were preserved and 86,000 not suitable for development.

Builders say the plan greatly overestimates the amount of land truly available to them. But Jeff Tittel, the executive director of the Sierra Club of New Jersey, said the estimate was low. The area designated suburban, he said, "is mostly vacant farmland that they're turning into sprawl."

Barbara Lawrence, the executive director of New Jersey Future, a statewide planning organization, said, "I feel queasy defending the bill," but she added that "the streamlining is confined to areas of the state where we have supposedly agreed we want development to take place."

Ms. Lawrence said the builders had legitimate complaints about the red tape in the state agencies, and other land-use experts agree that simplifying and expediting is, in theory, a good thing.

"That's the sad part about this," Mr. Lloyd said. "There's agreement about the problem, but the solution is using a sledge hammer where a scalpel would be appropriate."

The legislation requires the state to act on environmental permits within 45 days, and to reach a final decision within another 45 days. If it does not, the approval will be automatically granted.

The law also concentrates power in a "smart growth ombudsman," appointed by the governor, who could not only intervene on behalf of builders but could also veto any proposed regulations that he finds inconsistent with the state plan.

Many of these provisions raise legal questions, especially since the state is bound to comply with many federal environmental laws governing permits. It is for that reason, legal experts say, that only a few other states have adopted similar streamlining laws, with mixed success.

Thomas Borden, an associate professor at the Environmental Law Clinic at Rutgers University in Newark, said he expected several environmental groups to challenge the law in court, as the Sierra Club has already vowed to do. Mr. Borden said the groups expected builders to overwhelm state agencies with applications that then would likely be granted without review. "The potential for abuse is just horrendous," he said.

Environmentalists also say that by making permits easier to obtain, builders will be able to bully local planning officials by approaching them, permits in hand, and threatening to sue any municipality that opposes proposed construction.

But Mr. McGreevey says that the Department of Environmental Protection will receive enough additional staff to handle any increase in permit applications. He also insists that the new rules will not weaken the regulatory process.

"The D.E.P. will give an answer to a permit application. They'll just have to be more efficient about it, and if there's any doubt, the answer will be no," said Mr. McGreevey, who says his record on environmental policy should ease the concerns of New Jerseyans who fear additional sprawl.

Many environmentalists say now that the governor and fellow Democrats have pushed through an initiative that is so pro-developer, they have suddenly grown wary of Mr. McGreevey, their longtime ally. Conservationists say that the streamlined permitting plan has undermined the process so severely thatthey will have far less power to fight undesirable developments. And that, environmentalists say, is too high a price to pay, even for a goal as ambitious as preserving the Highlands.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Kris
July 5th, 2004, 05:31 AM
July 5, 2004

McGreevey Assailed on Bill Easing Developers' Permits

By LAURA MANSNERUS

From most every beach blanket on the Jersey Shore, the message was visible. A banner pulled by a plane from Cape May to Sandy Hook yesterday implored, "SAVE NJ," and urged a call to the governor telling him to veto the "polluter paradise bill." It included his office telephone number.

The old-fashioned stunt capped a week of news conferences around the state at which environmental advocates, labor and housing lobbyists and local officials pleaded for Gov, James E. McGreevey to veto recent legislation that allows developers to get environmental permits on an expedited schedule.

And so a week that should have brought some relief for Mr. McGreevey, who had just won his campaign to curb development in the New Jersey Highlands and saw his expansive new budget successfully through the Legislature, instead brought a fresh round of assaults.

The attack comes from the same people who praised Mr. McGreevey just a month ago for the Highlands legislation. Now they say his agreement to what is known as the fast-track bill threatens to despoil the coast, increase urban pollution, hasten the proliferation of Wal-Marts and cripple regulations that protect workers from hazardous materials.

"It is a horrible bill," Paul Chrystie, the director of the Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Environment, said at a news conference of two dozen angry environmental advocates. "It rolls back 30 years of environmental protection."

Aside from having spokesmen dismiss the calls for a veto, Mr. McGreevey made no public response. But in an interview on Friday, the governor said he was perplexed by his old allies.

"We have arguably the most aggressive environmental policy in the county," he said. Recalling his decision 14 months ago to bar construction near reservoirs and waterways, he said: "I got the same response from the other side. I was vilified by the builders."

Responding to suggestions that he bowed to threats by the South Jersey Democrats and Democratic county leaders - more-or-less constant adversaries in his own party - who had held the Highlands plan hostage at the behest of developers and building-trades unions, the governor said only, "It was necessary to achieve balance."

While some people in his administration say the fast-track bill is not what Mr. McGreevey really wanted, the governor insists that it advances his long-held goal of revitalizing the cities and sagging older suburbs.

The bill expedites the environmental permitting process in areas the state has designated suitable for development, a total of about one-third of New Jersey's land area. It gives state officials 45 days to determine whether an application is complete and an additional 45 days to grant or deny a permit. An application would automatically be deemed complete if officials did not ask for additional information within the first 45 days, and the permit is automatically granted if the state does not act.

The legislation also establishes a "smart growth ombudsman" to act as an advocate for builders and to review all regulations affecting the state's master plan for development. The bill's opponents say this would effectively confer veto authority over a vast array of environmental, housing and even labor regulations.

The governor said that in the areas designated for growth, projects should not be mired in a process intended to protect pristine areas.

"The difficulty today is that government itself does not differentiate between an application which will ultimately destroy open space and an application that will rebuild a destroyed neighborhood," he said.

Mr. McGreevey and his environmental commissioner, Bradley M. Campbell, note that the legislation does not change any environmental laws or standards or override local zoning and planning decisions.

But many of the bill's opponents were surprised to learn that they were in what the governor calls growth areas. At news conferences in a number of sites around the state, environmentalists and local officials protested that applications for permits in growth areas to allow developments that involved sewage discharge, toxic waste management and wetlands use could never be properly reviewed in 45 days.

Critics have also raised legal objections. Last week Jane Kenny, the regional administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, warned the governor's chief counsel that the changes could not proceed without federal approval.

In addition, the environmental advocates say, they are still infuriated by Mr. McGreevey's agreement with the Legislature's Democratic leaders to expedite the bill itself; it was introduced on June 14 and won approval without debate three days later.

"It was clear from the very first moment that marching orders had been given to the Legislature to pass this bill," said Rick Engler, the director of the New Jersey Work and Environment Council, "It didn't matter how bad the bill was." Last week the council sent notices to 800 union officials urging them to complain to Mr. McGreevey.

If the bill has become a vehicle for fears about development, Mr. McGreevey said, some public discussion would have helped. "I would have preferred a slower, more deliberate process," he said. "But that's the way the legislative process works."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

urban quest-ion
April 10th, 2005, 05:33 PM
We need to focus growth in the older inner suburbs, because what happens when land runs out? We will have the New York suburbs looking like LA's suburbs (yuck). Quality over quantity people. Maybe some of the sunbelt cities could use a little more growth, the rest of the country is fine as far as population goes.

alex ballard
April 10th, 2005, 05:42 PM
We need to focus growth in the older inner suburbs, because what happens when land runs out? We will have the New York suburbs looking like LA's suburbs (yuck). Quality over quantity people. Maybe some of the sunbelt cities could use a little more growth, the rest of the country is fine as far as population goes.

I agree with everything except the sunbelt comment. The Sunbelt needs to be left undeveloped.


The NY metro needs to invest in multi-family housing. That would fit tens of millions.

vicknj
June 12th, 2005, 09:14 PM
Ah... is all I can say. What I want to know, is why "do people have to have huge homes?" I mean, homes built fifty years ago were fine? So, p eople shared bedrooms, didn't have three car garages, or five bathrooms, and eight bedrooms. I view myself, as someone who loves where I currently live, in Northern NJ. I live in an apartment. My husband just graduated with a B.A and have been working for about five years in fundraising. We two individuals, who would love to by a home, I wou ld love to stay in this area, professionally it is good for me, nearby family, diversity is great, but to purchase as home will be almost impossible. So, most likely we will not stay here. Maybe move to upstate NY we will see. I hate how the houseing market haS priced individuals such as myself out of the market.

I actually told my husband the other day "that we should move into one of those new communities for fifty five and older" the homes are smaller, more resonably prices, so heck why not?

Vicks

Ninjahedge
June 13th, 2005, 08:39 AM
Because there is less room.

Sometimes you want to have more room than "just enough".

It is hard when you have 2 or 3 kids all in the same 8x10 room (as me and my siblings were for a short time at my grandparents when we were moving from one place to another that was not completed yet).

What I want to know is why are so many people happy with living in shoeboxes right next to each other? Ever notice that the closer people live to their neighbors, the less they pay attension to them?

I have seen lots of housewarming, conversations, and dinner meetings from people in the same neighborhood when they have a bit of space between each other, but when you stick them right next to each other it is like some social wall of privacy goes up between them so they don't have to picture the couple next door when they hear thumping at 2AM on a Friday night....

alex ballard
June 13th, 2005, 11:18 AM
/\ As for the "Shoeboxes create anti-social people" argument, explain why Europe and Asia have far less social problems than the US? They live in shoeboxes, I guess they're evil people.


"More than "just enough"" is the attitude that has gotten us to where we are today. I won't argue with you that you want it all. Just keep in the back of your mind that evenutally, there will be nothing.

Suburbs are no more social and no more real. And if the countryside is so great, why are you in Hoboken? I'll gladly take your apartment.

Ninjahedge
June 13th, 2005, 12:01 PM
/\ As for the "Shoeboxes create anti-social people" argument, explain why Europe and Asia have far less social problems than the US? They live in shoeboxes, I guess they're evil people.

Now you are being confrontory.

You are taking a situation like Europe, something different than what I was talking about, and giving that to me as a comparison. How is it in the more modern urban areas of europe? How social are areas of Taiwan and Tokyo?

I never called them Evil, you are starting to put words in my mouth to express your opinion of anyone whose train of thought does not run parallel with yours..





"More than "just enough"" is the attitude that has gotten us to where we are today. I won't argue with you that you want it all. Just keep in the back of your mind that evenutally, there will be nothing.

What kind of orwellian nonsense is that? Whi is it that countries that do have more SPACE (regardless of how much living room SF they have) are now in the midst of a population reduction?

The US still has a huge immigration influx as well as a large birth rate. We will see problems with this thing in the future, but saying that the US, or even the worlds population will keep expanding without limit is not looking at the whole picture.


Suburbs are no more social and no more real. And if the countryside is so great, why are you in Hoboken? I'll gladly take your apartment.

My parents live in the Suburbs. They work in the suburbs, they know their neighbors.

By grandmother just had her 90th birthday party yesterday in the back yard of my parents that was large enough to fit relatives and HER NEIGHBORS that lived next to her before she moved out 10 years ago.

I am in Hoboken because I work in NYC. One of the things I HATE about it is the inherent anti-social attitude and isolation that a lot of people have here. They are not mean, they just have all their own friends already. They move in with their own social circle and move out the same way.

So are you finished being ascerbic, sarcastic and personally degrading or do you want to ask me about my love life as well? :P

alex ballard
June 13th, 2005, 12:06 PM
/\ It goes both ways. How would your suburb accept your Hoboken friends? Also, I never got good vibes from Hoboken, so maybe it's a Jersey thing...

JCMAN320
June 14th, 2005, 05:24 AM
The state does have to be careful about overdeveloping because nature is more important than development. While progess is important, so is nature and preservation of our valuable open space. The balance between nature and human ingenuity and development is important to the success of a state as well as its cities and towns.

Zoe
June 14th, 2005, 10:21 AM
I know ALL my neighbors, and I live in Hoboken. I have people over that live in my building/on my block every single week. Alex, sorry to hear you have never gotten good vibes here. There are some cool people here. I have NO interest in the suburbs, and yes I have kids. "Just enough" is fine with me. I can afford a McMansion if I wanted one, but for me that would be too far away from society. I want my children to grow up with a more world view. I want them to meet people from different cultures and learn social skills that I think you can only get from living in our "shoebox".
Ninja, I think it's great how different your view is of living in Hoboken. It's only a square mile and you are clearly an educated and articulate person. And yet we have such different perceptions of our environment. It is that very diversity (not to mention unique restaurants, shops, etc...) that I want my children to soak up and learn from. Then when we visit family in the suburbs we can go to dinner at Applebee’s and that too would be different for them.

NYatKNIGHT
June 14th, 2005, 10:35 AM
Ninja, to be honest, maybe your building is one of the lame ones because I met all my neighbors in Hoboken too. My brothers and sisters all live in the suburbs and all have very different amount of contact with their neighbors - from "a lot" to "little or none". There are lots of factors, and from what I've seen,
Ever notice that the closer people live to their neighbors, the less they pay attension to them?doesn't hold true.

ZippyTheChimp
June 14th, 2005, 11:19 AM
I agree that there is no general rule regarding space (and density) and friendliness.

In an apartment environment, it may take a little effort. It is not always evident that someone has moved in. Elevators, laundry rooms, etc are areas of commonality. All it takes is one nosy neighbor.

The suburbs have back yards, but sometimes the layout discourages friendliness - such as a large front lawn.

The best is probably the old "suburbs" ringing business districts - detached houses but close together, with front porches. This was repeated in countless Brooklyn row houses, with small front yards and big stoops. On a summer evening, you couldn't walk down the street without encountering a gauntlet of neighbors sitting out front.

JCMAN320
June 23rd, 2005, 03:03 PM
The landowner thought the address was a joke, but when she looked at a topographical map, she realized she was ...
Building a home on top of a volcano

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
BY JIM LOCKWOOD
Star-Ledger Staff

Stories about suburban sprawl in New Jersey usually contain a lament for lost farmland, but this story is about new homes on something much more scarce -- the state's last available volcano.

The old "Beemerville Volcano" in the rural Sussex County township of Wantage now has a house on top.

"I'm on the cone" of the volcano, said Kathryn Kelly Herkert of Hasbrouck Heights, Bergen County. "It's been extinct for 440 million years. I'm comfortable with that."

The placid, picturesque knob last spewed lava in the Precambrian era and is officially classified as an extinct volcano. Now, it's just another plot of ground on which to build a home, although one with spectacular views of the neighboring countryside and a history dating to Mother Earth's childhood.

Geologists lament losing the old volcano to a house because the formation is the oldest of the very few volcanic necks, or magma pipes, found in New Jersey. (The most well-known volcanic neck is the jutting "Fraternity Rock" alongside the New Jersey Turnpike in Secaucus.)

Michael Carr, a geology professor at Rutgers University, once brought students to visit the Beemerville Volcano, but stopped about 20 years ago when homes began to crop up on the apex.

"It is too bad that a geological rarity is turned into a suburban lot," Carr said after learning of the latest home built there.

After blasting began for construction of the home, some residents mounted a petition to try to preserve the volcano, but nothing ever came of it, Kelly Herkert said.

At least one resident does not begrudge Kelly Herkert her home on the volcano.

Henry Byma had a dairy farm at the bottom of the hill for some four decades until moving three miles up the road in October. His son runs the farm now.

"If people are really concerned, they could have bought it," Byma said of the volcano. "Some people blame me, saying I sold it, but I never owned it. I guess people who live down there didn't want to look at houses -- they wanted to look at cows. People are different. Some don't mind and some want to see open space."

Over the years, Byma's cows often climbed the steep hill to graze on the grass atop the hill. Despite an elevation of 1,000 feet above sea level, the grass on the hilltop grew faster than anywhere else, perhaps because of heat coming up from the extinct volcano shaft, Byma said.

Kelly Herkert said she did not know the five-acre hilltop had once been a volcano when she bought it around 20 years ago.

"At that time, I thought the address Volcanic Hill Road was a joke," the 59-year-old teacher said.

It was only after seeing a topographical map of her property imprinted with "extinct volcano" that she had a brief pause for concern, and figured she better make sure it was extinct before building. She had her engineer call experts at the U.S. Geological Survey to check.

"I certainly don't want to get blown off," she said.

Along with being the oldest volcanic neck in the state, the Beemerville Volcano is perhaps the most unusual because it produced a rare geologic discovery: carbonatite, a rock not often found in North America.

And while the old volcano will never blow its top again, there is a potential danger because the carbonatites there are especially rich in radioactive elements that produce radon, Carr said. Houses built in that area should have radon traps or diverters to prevent high radon levels accumulating in living spaces, he said.

Besides Beemerville and Fraternity Rock, evidence of other volcanic activity in the state includes the Palisades and Watchung Mountains, said Claude Herzberg, another Rutgers geology professor.

"Our geology is rapidly disappearing in the state, in terms of good outcrops," he said. "It's been a bit of a frustration for us because in the old days we used to take busloads of kids to various sites."

Herzberg said despite its age and the presence of carbonatite, Beemerville doesn't get the respect of the volcanoes to the east.

"Beemerville is twice as old as the Watchungs and Palisades, but from a geological point of view, they are by far more important," he said. "They (date from) the breakup of continents and the formation of the Atlantic Ocean. You don't preserve things based upon age. It (Beemerville Volcano) had it's own interesting history, but when people go to scientific meetings, it's not the sort of thing they talk about."

And, Herzog said, "one difficult thing for Beemerville is it's not a spectacular-looking volcano, like Mount Saint Helens."

Still, the view isn't bad.

Kelly Herkert's two-story cape- style home, which is still under construction, has lots of windows to take in the hill's magnificent vistas of the patchwork of farms, rolling hills and valleys in northern Sussex County and neighboring Orange County, N.Y. The tip of the High Point Monument in Montague is visible just above the treeline to the northwest, while Hamburg Mountain and ski resorts in Vernon form the horizon to the east.

Reddish rock blasted away for the home's foundation is thought to be due to the prior lava flows, Kelly Herkert said. Byma also said the hill had bluish-green rocks.

Kelly Herkert, who teaches special education and algebra at the Sussex County Charter School for Technology in Sparta, said she hopes to be able to have her students learn all about the volcano by visiting the site.

"We are going to take field trips," she said.

Jim Lockwood may be reached at jlockwood@starledger.com or (973) 383-0516.

Ninjahedge
June 23rd, 2005, 05:39 PM
Which building are you referring to Guys?


I was in a small 4 story between 1st and 2nd on Washington, and people did not do much to try to meet each other there.

You came in with your group of friends, talked with them, and went out with them.

The only times I saw people meeting others were in special cases, such as:

If the people themselves were involved in something in common like Volleyball, Soccer, or even Ski Club.

If they had kids. For some reason parents talk to each other more than singles. Maybe it is the pack instinct. I do not know.


People that I have seen in Hoboken do not go out of their way to avoid contact. It is not as insulated as some other places, but it is like a soft buffer.

People in my place were fine with each other when you bumped into them on the stairs, but in general noone in my building ever had a social event with any other in the building. It was all Import-Export... ;)


I am also wondering about the crowded factor. People tend to like to have their own space. The more you cram people together, the more they deliberately ignore a lot of things so that they are not bothered by the things that they wold normally not notice if they were living on their own land/lot.

Once you break through this shell, the people are usually just as friendly as any other, but when it is up, they seem to be seperated by their own 10' of space that allows them not to be bothered as much in a crowded subway or listening to someone elses TV in the apartment next door.

Ah well, just my observations....

JCMAN320
June 27th, 2005, 04:00 AM
State, Newark in talks on Highlands land buy

Monday, June 27, 2005
BY STEVE CHAMBERS
Star-Ledger Staff

The state is quietly negotiating with Newark officials to buy development rights to thousands of acres the city owns in the northern Highlands.

Supporters call it an opportunity to ensure that 10,000 acres of prime property will be forever preserved -- at a relatively cheap price of $11 million.

But critics call it a waste of money, saying the land, which surrounds the city's five reservoirs, is undevelopable. They argue the state should instead focus its limited resources on small landowners harmed by last year's sweeping preservation law or properties more imminently threatened by building.

"It's another Newark bailout, as far as I'm concerned," said Dave Shope, who owns 58 acres in Lebanon Township that probably cannot be developed.

The deal between Newark and the state's Green Acres program is being hammered out on the heels of last year's Highlands Preservation Act. That law, signed in August, puts more than 415,000 acres of Highlands off limits to large-scale development, including the watershed lands around the Newark reservoirs.

Even before the Highlands law was passed, the Legislature barred development on watershed properties to protect water supplies. Still, supporters of the preservation effort point out that the city has for decades launched development proposal after proposal in a bid to shore up its teetering finances.

"These are very important watershed lands that Newark made a huge investment in long ago," said Michael Catania, an architect of the 1998 bond initiative that raised $3 billion for land preservation. "We can help Newark, ensure this property never gets developed and open up some great recreation lands."

Newark began amassing the property, which spreads across Passaic, Morris and Sussex counties, in the late 1800s, after deadly cholera outbreaks traced to tainted city wells.

With state approval, the city began buying up property -- or taking it by condemnation when landowners stood in the way. It then built a series of reservoirs and a 21-mile pipeline to carry the pristine water southeast. Today, that system provides water to hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents.

Over the years, Newark repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to develop the land. In the late 1970s, it proposed building 5,000 houses on thousands of acres. A decade later, plans called for housing as well as a golf course.

Rather than try to battle each new proposal, the state began buying up the city's development rights, ensuring that nothing could ever be built. Green Acres has already paid the city $27 million over the past few years to restrict building on about 75 percent of the city's 35,000 acres of watershed property. The current negotiations would lock up the remaining 10,000 acres at a price of about $1,100 an acre.

The negotiations, however, have been clouded by the Highlands bill. When they approved the law, lawmakers pledged to compensate private landowners whose property could no longer be developed at pre-law prices. But the state's $3 billion open-space fund is starting to run dry and the $11 million price tag amounts to a big chunk of the $50 million Green Acres intends to spend in the Highlands this year.

That has some landowners uneasy.

Told of the Newark negotiations, Ed Gagne, an architect in Hunterdon County who owns 17 vacant acres, said no one in the state has expressed an interest in buying his land.

"I'm tired of supplying the water to lowlanders, so they can make a huge profit at the expense of my land," he said.

But Richard Monteilh, Newark's business administrator, said it is only fair that the city receive some compensation for giving up any hope of developing its property. He said the city is selling the land cheaply in the public interest, unlike some landowners who seem bent on holding out for higher prices.

"I'm sure Green Acres would run to other landowners if they would behave in a reasonable way to accommodate the interests of the state without breaking the bank," Monteilh said.

John Flynn, who heads Green Acres, agreed that it is a matter of fairness, and he also insisted that taxpayers are getting a good deal. He said that by purchasing development rights, the state will be able to make the land available to hikers and other recreational users.

"This land is the best of the Highlands," he said.

Others worry about large-scale development proposals that are moving forward in the Highlands. Near the Pequannock watershed lands in West Milford, for example, residents and local officials are fighting a development of 280 townhouses by K. Hovnanian Homes. Although the land is in the Highlands preservation area, K. Hovnanian won enough approvals before passage of the act to win an exemption.

"There are a lot of properties that are in play up here," said Robin O'Hearn of Skylands Clean, an environmental group in Passaic County. "I would rather see them buy land that is threatened with development than land that is never going to be developed."

Most of the 10,000 acres in question are in West Milford, a rural community that has long sparred with Newark over issues of development and taxation.

West Milford fought Newark's largest housing proposal through years of litigation that ended in 1983.

After losing the case, Newark filed appeals that reduced its contributions in lieu of taxes by more than $4 million, said Martin Murphy, a Riverdale lawyer who defended the township.

If the state buys the remaining development rights, it could be a double whammy for West Milford. Kevin Byrnes, the West Milford clerk, predicted the city would then likely seek a further tax adjustment, claiming the land would now be worth less.

"Between the Highlands Act and the old moratorium on development of watershed properties, these lands aren't going to be developed," he said. "A lot of questions are being raised up here about taxpayer money being spent on this property or any others."

Steve Chambers covers land-use issues. He may be reached at schambers@starledger.com or (973) 392-1674.

ZippyTheChimp
August 17th, 2005, 12:02 AM
August 17, 2005
Driven by Development

By GLENN COLLINS (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=GLENN COLLINS&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=GLENN COLLINS&inline=nyt-per)

NORTH HALEDON, N.J., Aug. 15 - Call it a tale of two townships.

Across the state border, they are 30 minutes, and 20 highway miles, apart. The borough of North Haledon in Passaic County, N.J., is verging on maximum buildout. Seventy percent of the town of Tuxedo in Orange County, N.Y., is open land.

But the towns are linked by more than the rainwater from Tuxedo that becomes the pure drinking water flowing from North Haledon's 1,431 wells.

The destinies of both municipalities are being driven by the urgency of escalating development. That point was made very publicly last month when Randy George, North Haledon's mayor, rose to take the microphone at a crowded Tuxedo public hearing on a new subdivision. He was the only New Jersey official who had made the trip.

Not unlike Marley's Ghost, he summoned up a dire specter: his premonition of Tuxedo's future.

Developers lie, Mr. George said from all-too-personal experience. They offer charming architects' renderings that might bear little resemblance to the projects they build. They talk about revenue riches but leave towns with schools to build, sewers to pay for and taxes to raise.

"The developers promise you everything, but you must remember, they are there to make money," he cautioned the audience in Tuxedo's 1928 town hall. "And as soon as they are gone, you're left holding the bag." The residents of 3.4-square-mile North Haledon and 45.6-square-mile Tuxedo are at the fulcrum of longstanding demographic and developmental forces that have increasingly claimed the attention of local governments and agitated residents across the region.

New Jersey, the nation's most densely populated state, is expected to grow by more than 750,000 people in the next decade or so. Planners predict that the demand from young home buyers, and baby boom grandparents retiring to designer communities in record numbers, will quickly consume all developable land.

"Development has been happening for hundreds of years, but it's more intense than ever because there is so little land left," Mr. George said.

And in a surprising admission for a politician, the mayor said that he - and the six-person Borough Council that he works with closely - had, in part, failed. "We've done well in limiting development, but we couldn't stop it," Mr. George said. Of the new residents, he said, "Though they pay taxes, they cost us money for services." He ticked off a few of the borough's developmental headaches:

Its insurers required North Haledon to buy a $750,000 new ladder truck for its volunteer fire department, to reach the tall new town houses being built in an abandoned quarry by K. Hovnanian Homes. Then the borough had to contribute $100,000 for an addition to the firehouse on High Mountain Avenue to shelter the new truck.

On Sept. 27, voters will consider a $30 million referendum to replace a 100-year-old elementary school.

The police force has grown from 17 to 18, and the public works department has hired new officials.

North Haledon is planning a $950,000 addition to its public works garage. It already had to buy a new $300,000 Jet-Vac machine to scour its sewer lines. To pay for such amenities, the borough had to impose a sewer-connection fee of $7,400 per unit on developers "because the state won't support towns by enacting developer-impact fees," the mayor said.

Burly and bearded, the 52-year-old Mr. George - who is on occasion taken for the actor John Malkovich - has held office since 1999. He and his wife, Lynn, have raised four daughters during the two decades they have lived in North Haledon. A lifelong Republican, he insists that despite his battles with builders, "I am not a tree-hugger."

Like 14 of the 16 mayors in Passaic County, he is a part-timer. Salary: $5,000 a year. He regularly spends 35 hours a week on mayoral duties, and his political avocation has often competed with his painting contracting business.

Developers have the upper hand because "they have more lobbying power than the towns, and more experience than many of the mayors and council people," the mayor contended. "They know more than I'll ever know about getting what they want."

Or as the North Haledon council president, Bruce O. Iacobelli - like the mayor, a Republican - said in an interview: "You have to watch everything the developers do, because they try to get in and get out as quickly as they can."

The borough's vigilance is such that on Aug. 3, it declared one developer, Belmont Homes, in default of its agreement to complete a six-unit complex on Sturr Street after an inspector found construction deficiencies. The developer has promised to address the problems.

The adversarial relationship seems never-ending, Mr. George said. Hovnanian tried to pack more than 700 town houses on its 101-acre quarry property but North Haledon wrestled the builder down to the current total, 301, he said.

"There are always negotiations that go on between a town and a developer," said Doug Fenichel, a spokesman for Hovnanian. He rejected any suggestion that Hovnanian has a build-it-and-run approach: "You don't survive in business since 1959, as we have, if you aren't taking care of municipalities."

Well-manicured, working-class and proud of it, this borough some two miles from Paterson had a 2002 population of 8,033, according to a census estimate, but will soon reach 9,000, Mayor George said.

In Tuxedo, there is still farmland and open space, but, according to Mike Edelstein, a psychology professor at Ramapo College who is the Democratic candidate for Orange County executive in the Nov. 8 election, "we are moving toward buildout like lightning."

Although formerly agrarian New Jersey towns saw a prodigious amount of development after World War II, the current growth in Orange County is "happening at a pace that is much faster," Dr. Edelstein said. "Without effective planning, we are heading toward a high tax base, a relative lack of services, impossibly congested roads and school-tax revolts."

In Tuxedo, Mayor George spoke in opposition to a plan to build Sterling Forge, 107 minimansions on a 575-acre tract of privately owned land within the 20,400-acre Sterling Forest, a preserve that New York, New Jersey and private donors spent $78.2 million to make forever wild. The turnout was so large that the hearing will be resumed Monday night, and Mayor George will be there. Mary Yrizarry, a longtime Tuxedo resident, is looking forward to the mayor's return, since his original speech "gave comfort to a lot of people who are afraid that town governments are not paying attention to these issues," she said.

"The idea that one town government would tell another town government how it really was - that's quite unusual."

But to Louis Heimbach, the president of Sterling Forest L.L.C., the Tuxedo developer, opponents of Sterling Forge "don't want anything to happen here."

"The world we live in has been built by development," he said. "Our world didn't get here thanks to the tooth fairy. Without developers we'd all be living in caves."

Developers insist that towns have all the advantages, by determining zoning in their state-mandated master plans, and in requiring new developments to satisfy inspections, performance bonds and "150 different permits with five different layers of government involved," said Patrick O'Keefe, chief executive of the New Jersey Builders Association in Robbinsville.

Mayor George responded, "I want them regulated by as many people as often as possible."

But Mr. Fenichel of Hovnanian worries that antigrowth bias will drive New Jersey residents - and jobs - away.

The state should be building 50,000 homes a year to keep abreast of its growing population, he said, but "only 25,000 to 35,000 new homes a year are being built."

Mr. O'Keefe said: "Nimby says go elsewhere. But when young people need a new place to live, or aging parents need a place to downsize, or if the marriage breaks up and the partners are looking for a place to go, they find that elsewhere is not a place on the map."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

Ninjahedge
August 17th, 2005, 08:42 AM
"The state should be building 50,000 homes a year to keep abreast of its growing population, he said, but "only 25,000 to 35,000 new homes a year are being built."

Mr. O'Keefe said: "Nimby says go elsewhere. But when young people need a new place to live, or aging parents need a place to downsize, or if the marriage breaks up and the partners are looking for a place to go, they find that elsewhere is not a place on the map.""


Awwww.


Well guess what, overbuilding ahead of infrastructure does NOONE any good. You get an additional 5000 people in a town of 20,000 (which is a decent sized suburban town) and you will have school, FD, PD, drainage, sewerage and power problems.

You build a bunch of luxury homes, like what they did by Ramapo Reservation in northern NJ, and cut down all the trees on the lot to make construction easier, you get deer coming out, in broad daylight, to look for a way to cross the street from somones newly-sodded back yard back over to the reserve.

You get "horrible" tales of bears "invading" residential areas that were once THEIR homes.

Tree hugger or not, it annoys me when I hear some of these things and see the result of greedy "back 'em in as tight as you can" 'luxury' developments. You think they would try a bit harder to make people happy in the long run.

Besides their shareholders and executives that is.

TomAuch
August 17th, 2005, 12:16 PM
If the people in Tuxedo are smart, they will try to limit the development from going full speed. Tuxedo, and Orange County in general, are growing fast, mainly because Westchester and Rockland are overbuilt in some areas and unaffordable in others. However, in Northern Weschester and in parts of Rockland that are inland, you have towns that have sucessfully preserved open spaces. If you go to some of these towns, there are preserved barns, forests, and dirt roads. I would hope that people in Orange, Putnam, and Dutchess preserve as much land as possible, lest they want McMansions to devour everything.

JCMAN320
July 31st, 2007, 11:54 AM
NJ.com
Open space question to be on ballot

The state's voters will decide in November whether to approve borrowing $200 million to preserve open space under a bill to be signed today by Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

The plan proposes spending $109 million for preserving open space and parkland, $73 million to preserve farmland, $12 million on anti-flooding efforts and $6 million on historic preservation through the year 2010.

The money would replenish the Garden State Preservation Trust program, which has preserved more than 292,650 acres of land in New Jersey since 1998.

Corzine would prefer to fund open space preservation through his plans to make more money off state assets such as toll roads, but environmentalists worried that any delay would risk losing more land to development.

"New Jersey, the nation's most densely populated state, is running out of time to protect diminishing tracts of open space,'' said Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, a bill sponsor. "New Jersey is losing 50 acres a day to development. Passage of this land preservation referendum is critically important.''

Under a compromise between Corzine and legislators, debt incurred by the borrowing could be paid off from money raised through Corzine's plan if it is approved. Corzine hasn't yet unveiled a formal proposal.

The open space question will likely be among four public questions on the November ballot.

Already approved are questions asking voters whether to:

— Permanently dedicate all money earned from last year's sales tax increase to property tax relief.

— Revise language outlining when voting rights can be denied. The plan would delete the phrase "idiot or insane person'' and replace it with the phrase "person who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting.''

— Approve borrowing $450 million to fund stem cell research for 10 years.

Associated Press

MikeKruger
July 31st, 2007, 12:07 PM
here's the answer for future generations!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcology

66nexus
July 31st, 2007, 02:00 PM
That doesn't actually seem like a bad idea. The likelihood lies probably around 2080 or so but it's a good idea nonetheless.
Also, NJ should push muchmuch harder to preserve open space and force developers to build on our cities. Problem is, it's expensive to build in a city and the street grids are already setup; Whereas a new community development can be setup however they pleased

Ninjahedge
July 31st, 2007, 04:28 PM
And I just LOVE the McMansion-shoulder-to-shoulder-20'-front-yard-Meandering-culdesac developments they are mushrooming up all over.

And unlike California, we don't have wildfires burning the houses built on our former natural space.

Unless we can get the national guard to start doing air exercises in different locations....


Signal flare anyone?

OmegaNYC
July 31st, 2007, 05:43 PM
^^^

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/66/F-16_Fighting_Falcon.jpg/250px-F-16_Fighting_Falcon.jpg

just let me know when ya ready!

JCMAN320
September 19th, 2007, 02:52 PM
Coalition campaigns for open space preservation

by Dunstan McNichol Wednesday September 19, 2007, 1:17 PM

http://blog.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/2007/09/large_signL.jpg
Amanda Brown/The Star-Ledger


Governor Corzine signed a bill in July which will allow New Jerseyans in November to vote for bond authorization for Green Acres funding.

A coalition of environmental and government groups today announced plans to canvas the state with a campaign war chest of hundreds of thousands of dollars and a base of 350,000 volunteers to support of a measure to raise $200 million for open space preservation.

Calling themselves the "Keep It Green Campaign," the coalition of more than 90 organizations promised to blanket the state with mailings, radio ads and phone banks in support of Ballot Question No. 3 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The question would authorize the state to borrow $200 million to continue operating the existing Green Acres and farmland preservation programs, and it would bankroll historic preservation projects, park development and the acquisition of homes and businesses in flood-prone areas.

"We're running this campaign as if it were a person," Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Chapter Director of the Sierra Club, said at a press conference announcing the new campaign at the Statehouse this morning. "We want this to pass by one of the largest margins in state history."

Supporters say the new funding is vital to maintaining an open space preservation program until lawmakers can devise a permanent source of funding for the program from annual state budget revenues.

Information on the campaign can be found at their web site: http://www.outdoorrecreationalliance.com/kig.htm.

66nexus
September 19th, 2007, 11:31 PM
^^^

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/66/F-16_Fighting_Falcon.jpg/250px-F-16_Fighting_Falcon.jpg

just let me know when ya ready!

AWESOME

66nexus
September 19th, 2007, 11:33 PM
Coalition campaigns for open space preservation

by Dunstan McNichol Wednesday September 19, 2007, 1:17 PM

http://blog.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/2007/09/large_signL.jpg
Amanda Brown/The Star-Ledger


Governor Corzine signed a bill in July which will allow New Jerseyans in November to vote for bond authorization for Green Acres funding.

A coalition of environmental and government groups today announced plans to canvas the state with a campaign war chest of hundreds of thousands of dollars and a base of 350,000 volunteers to support of a measure to raise $200 million for open space preservation.

Calling themselves the "Keep It Green Campaign," the coalition of more than 90 organizations promised to blanket the state with mailings, radio ads and phone banks in support of Ballot Question No. 3 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The question would authorize the state to borrow $200 million to continue operating the existing Green Acres and farmland preservation programs, and it would bankroll historic preservation projects, park development and the acquisition of homes and businesses in flood-prone areas.

"We're running this campaign as if it were a person," Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Chapter Director of the Sierra Club, said at a press conference announcing the new campaign at the Statehouse this morning. "We want this to pass by one of the largest margins in state history."

Supporters say the new funding is vital to maintaining an open space preservation program until lawmakers can devise a permanent source of funding for the program from annual state budget revenues.

Information on the campaign can be found at their web site: http://www.outdoorrecreationalliance.com/kig.htm.

Oh the irony, on the one hand, NJ could definitely use more green space and slowdown of suburban sprawl. On the other hand, these preservation programs cost money...and we AALLLL know about the debt.
Does Corzine still want to borrow for the stem cell centers? just curious

JCexpert558
September 21st, 2007, 09:54 PM
State, Newark in talks on Highlands land buy

Monday, June 27, 2005
BY STEVE CHAMBERS
Star-Ledger Staff

The state is quietly negotiating with Newark officials to buy development rights to thousands of acres the city owns in the northern Highlands.

Supporters call it an opportunity to ensure that 10,000 acres of prime property will be forever preserved -- at a relatively cheap price of $11 million.

But critics call it a waste of money, saying the land, which surrounds the city's five reservoirs, is undevelopable. They argue the state should instead focus its limited resources on small landowners harmed by last year's sweeping preservation law or properties more imminently threatened by building.

"It's another Newark bailout, as far as I'm concerned," said Dave Shope, who owns 58 acres in Lebanon Township that probably cannot be developed.

The deal between Newark and the state's Green Acres program is being hammered out on the heels of last year's Highlands Preservation Act. That law, signed in August, puts more than 415,000 acres of Highlands off limits to large-scale development, including the watershed lands around the Newark reservoirs.

Even before the Highlands law was passed, the Legislature barred development on watershed properties to protect water supplies. Still, supporters of the preservation effort point out that the city has for decades launched development proposal after proposal in a bid to shore up its teetering finances.

"These are very important watershed lands that Newark made a huge investment in long ago," said Michael Catania, an architect of the 1998 bond initiative that raised $3 billion for land preservation. "We can help Newark, ensure this property never gets developed and open up some great recreation lands."

Newark began amassing the property, which spreads across Passaic, Morris and Sussex counties, in the late 1800s, after deadly cholera outbreaks traced to tainted city wells.

With state approval, the city began buying up property -- or taking it by condemnation when landowners stood in the way. It then built a series of reservoirs and a 21-mile pipeline to carry the pristine water southeast. Today, that system provides water to hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents.

Over the years, Newark repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to develop the land. In the late 1970s, it proposed building 5,000 houses on thousands of acres. A decade later, plans called for housing as well as a golf course.

Rather than try to battle each new proposal, the state began buying up the city's development rights, ensuring that nothing could ever be built. Green Acres has already paid the city $27 million over the past few years to restrict building on about 75 percent of the city's 35,000 acres of watershed property. The current negotiations would lock up the remaining 10,000 acres at a price of about $1,100 an acre.

The negotiations, however, have been clouded by the Highlands bill. When they approved the law, lawmakers pledged to compensate private landowners whose property could no longer be developed at pre-law prices. But the state's $3 billion open-space fund is starting to run dry and the $11 million price tag amounts to a big chunk of the $50 million Green Acres intends to spend in the Highlands this year.

That has some landowners uneasy.

Told of the Newark negotiations, Ed Gagne, an architect in Hunterdon County who owns 17 vacant acres, said no one in the state has expressed an interest in buying his land.

"I'm tired of supplying the water to lowlanders, so they can make a huge profit at the expense of my land," he said.

But Richard Monteilh, Newark's business administrator, said it is only fair that the city receive some compensation for giving up any hope of developing its property. He said the city is selling the land cheaply in the public interest, unlike some landowners who seem bent on holding out for higher prices.

"I'm sure Green Acres would run to other landowners if they would behave in a reasonable way to accommodate the interests of the state without breaking the bank," Monteilh said.

John Flynn, who heads Green Acres, agreed that it is a matter of fairness, and he also insisted that taxpayers are getting a good deal. He said that by purchasing development rights, the state will be able to make the land available to hikers and other recreational users.

"This land is the best of the Highlands," he said.

Others worry about large-scale development proposals that are moving forward in the Highlands. Near the Pequannock watershed lands in West Milford, for example, residents and local officials are fighting a development of 280 townhouses by K. Hovnanian Homes. Although the land is in the Highlands preservation area, K. Hovnanian won enough approvals before passage of the act to win an exemption.

"There are a lot of properties that are in play up here," said Robin O'Hearn of Skylands Clean, an environmental group in Passaic County. "I would rather see them buy land that is threatened with development than land that is never going to be developed."

Most of the 10,000 acres in question are in West Milford, a rural community that has long sparred with Newark over issues of development and taxation.

West Milford fought Newark's largest housing proposal through years of litigation that ended in 1983.

After losing the case, Newark filed appeals that reduced its contributions in lieu of taxes by more than $4 million, said Martin Murphy, a Riverdale lawyer who defended the township.

If the state buys the remaining development rights, it could be a double whammy for West Milford. Kevin Byrnes, the West Milford clerk, predicted the city would then likely seek a further tax adjustment, claiming the land would now be worth less.

"Between the Highlands Act and the old moratorium on development of watershed properties, these lands aren't going to be developed," he said. "A lot of questions are being raised up here about taxpayer money being spent on this property or any others."

Steve Chambers covers land-use issues. He may be reached at schambers@starledger.com or (973) 392-1674.
Hey JCman, did this land come to Newark already, or did it not happen:confused:

JCMAN320
January 17th, 2008, 09:49 PM
Highlands Council rejects first development project

by Paula Saha/The Star-Ledger Thursday January 17, 2008, 9:00 PM

The Highlands Council today recommended for the first time that the state Department of Environmental Protection deny a sewer permit for a project in New Jersey's environmentally sensitive Highlands region.

After taking an 11-2 vote giving thumbs down to the Huntington Knolls housing development in Holland Township, Hunterdon County, the council gave its conditional approval to another housing proposal in Mine Hill, Morris County. The recommendation to approve came on a 10-3 vote.

Neither project meets all the proposed rules for the Highlands region, located largely in northern New Jersey, but council members said the Mine Hill project could be amended to better fit the area's draft master plan. The Highlands plan is a guide to preserving and developing the 850,000-acre region that provides water to more than half the state's population.

The state DEP will consider the council's recommendations in making a final decision on the projects.

The majority of the council found Huntington Knolls -- about 116 age-restricted units, along with affordable housing, commercial space and assisted living on 87 acres west of Milford Warren Glen Road -- violated various environmental standards, from building on steep slopes to encroaching on no-development buffers around pristine waterways.

The decision angered developer Vincent Jiovino. He said today he had invested 10 years and $1.4 million in engineering and attorney costs and the DEP told him appearing before the council was "a formality." The town, he added, had brought the project to him and wanted to see it proceed.

"I've had my permits for three years," Jiovino said in a phone interview after the meeting. "They (the Highlands Council) weren't even in existence when I got my permits. ... If they want our land for water rights, they should buy it off us. Don't steal it off us."

The reaction in Mine Hill was decidedly different after the council recommended the DEP approve a 275-unit project, with conditions. The Mine Hill project has been around for more than a decade and at one point encompassed more than 700 units. But the town and developer came to an agreement to build on 46 acres and preserve another 178 acres as open space.

-----------------------------------------------

JCexpert sorry I didn't respond earlier to your question about Newark. Newark I believe did acquire that land

Ninjahedge
January 23rd, 2008, 01:57 PM
/me buys stock in Avian/Poland Spring.

JCMAN320
April 11th, 2008, 01:14 PM
Judge will be asked to reconsider Highlands Act ruling

by Tom Hester/The Star-Ledger Friday April 11, 2008, 11:38 AM

A state Superior Court judge in Trenton is prepared to hear a plea today asking him to reconsider his decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state Highlands protection act. Judge Paul Innes set the hearing for 3 p.m.

The Warren freeholders and nine property owners said restrictions on land use in the Highlands preservation area devalued their property without compensation. The property owners are from Warren, Hunterdon and Morris counties.

Innes tossed out the lawsuit on Jan. 18, but the attorneys for the county and property owners, Stephen Shaw and John Zaiter, argue that "by stripping 75 percent of the equity from their lands, the state of New Jersey through the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act is depriving farmers in the preservation area of the right'' to engage in agriculture. The lawyers maintain they are prepared to take the issue to the state Supreme Court.

The Highlands Act was approved by the Legislature and Gov. James McGreevey in 2004 to control development in an area that provides about half of the drinking water in the state. The law, which involves 88 towns in an 850,000-acre area, restricts development in much of Northwest New Jersey.

JCMAN320
February 18th, 2010, 11:47 PM
Holland adds 42 acres of woods, farmland to Hunterdon preserve

By Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
February 18, 2010, 8:04PM

http://media.nj.com/ledgerlocal/photo/hn0221landlnsajpg-ec2bb1decdccd4c9_large.jpg
David Gard/For The Star-Ledger
The Tom Saeger Land Preserve in Holland.

HOLLAND TOWNSHIP -- The Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance has added 42 acres of woods and farmland in Holland Township to its open space.

http://media.nj.com/ledgerlocal/photo/hollandjpg-fe338441f4ada698_medium.jpg
David Gard/For The Star-Ledger
A brook runs through the Tom Saeger Land Preserve in Holland.

Called the “Tom Saeger Land Preserve,” it’s named for its former owner, a Newark native. Saeger’s nieces and nephews preserved the land to honor his wishes, according to the land trust.

The preserve, which is open to the public, can be accessed from Shire Road. It was created with funding from the state Green Acres program — which contributed 50 percent of the cost — and Hunterdon County — which contributed 20 percent, or about $56,000 — as well as from the Phillipsburg Riverview organization, Holland Township
and the Victoria Foundation.

Bird-watching, hiking and cross-country skiing are some of the activities the public can enjoy on the property, according to the group’s executive director, Margaret Waldock.

The property connects to another 100 acres previously preserved by the nonprofit.

“Our approach to preservation in this area is to build contiguous tracts of preserved land,” said Waldock. That way, “you’re really getting your best bang for your buck, conservation-wise,” she said. Preserving adjacent properties will help wildlife by keeping the forest intact, she said, and will protect the Milford Creek, a tributary which feeds into the Delaware River.

Former landowner Thomas Saeger spent most of his life in the Ironbound section of Newark, but when he was a kid, his mom put him on the train to spend the summers working on relatives’ farms in Hunterdon.

Saeger would eventually run the family business, a tavern called Murphy’s, with his mother after his father’s death. But he had fond memories of Hunterdon. After serving in World War II, he bought 113 acres there, according to his nieces and nephews, who inherited the property.

One of his nieces, MaryAnn Saeger, said she has many memories of the property, including swimming and fishing in the pond, picnicking, picking Queen Anne’s Lace and other wildflowers, camping near the still-existing pavilion, walking in the woods and riding around in their uncle’s Army Jeep.

“He used to bounce us around in the back,” Saeger said. “You had to hold on for dear life.” But, the “best, best thing up there are the stars,” she said. Along with the lightning bugs, “it’s like a light show from the ‘70s,” she said, laughing.

“We promised him that we would never sell to developers because it’s such a beautiful piece of property,” Saeger said.

Now 60, she and her husband live in Bloomfield, but they farm garlic at their uncle’s old place in Holland Township, which has been subdivided off from the preserve.

“We are very pleased to preserve this property that our uncle enjoyed and tended to for so many years,” Saeger said.

JCMAN320
February 18th, 2010, 11:52 PM
N.J. preserved 332 acres of hiking, natural, agricultural lands in past year

By Brian T. Murray/The Star-Ledger
January 28, 2010, 5:22PM

http://media.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/photo/open-space-home-made-sign-east-amwell-ballot-questionjpg-fb56c4014014f7d8_large.jpg
Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger
In an October 2007 photo, a home made sign at a farm in East Amwell, Hunterdon County touts a previous open space ballot question. A report by a conversation group says that New Jersey preserved 332 acres of land in four counties totally $7.0 million in 2009.

Eight North Jersey preservation projects totaling 332 acres in four counties and costing $7.1 million were completed at the end of 2009, permanently saving natural lands, hiking trails and agricultural land, according to a year-end report of the Land Conservancy of New Jersey.

Closings on five tracts occurred in the final 10 days of the year in partnership with local, county and state governments, and non-profit groups for sites in Morris, Essex, Sussex and Warren counties.

Goals of the purchases included historic preservation, recreation, and protection of farmland, water resources, forests and habitats for threatened and endangered species, said Conservancy officials.

"It was a frantic finish to a fantastic year," Conservancy Executive Director David Epstein said yesterday.

"We were excited to preserve a house built before the American Revolution in Boonton, convert two flood-prone in Pequannock’s floodplain into parkland, preserve farmland in Warren County and add 11 acres to one of the nation’s first county parks in West Orange."

Preserved tracts include:

• First Time Fen: 54 acres, Green Township. Protects ecologically diverse habitats and is a first step in a planned greenway to link the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area to the Pequest River Blueway.

• Mayapple Hill Extension: 11.2 acres, West Orange. Now part of South Mountain Reservation, the property is open to the public for hiking and cross-country skiing.

• Lake Iliff Access: 13.5 acres, Andover Township. Provides access to the lake for boats, and is home to herons, egrets and other waterfowl.

• Pompton River Walk: 0.43 acres, Pequannock. Fills gaps between preserved lands on the Pompton River, creating a linear park that connects with Aquatic Park and parkland in neighboring communities.

• Polowy farm: 140 acres, Frelinghuysen. Composed of four fields in the lowlands, with some wooded grazing land near and wooded uplands with breathtaking views.

• New Village Road Natural Area: 109 acres, Greenwich Township. Contributes to a regional initiative to protect the scenic Route 78 corridor.

• Miller-Kingsland Historic Park: 2.81 acres, Boonton. Provides much-needed open space in a compactly developed town, and protection of historic buildings.

• Horseshoe Lake Athletic Complex: 0.63 acres, Roxbury, Morris County. Allows expansion of local recreational venue.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/01/nj_preserved_332_acres_of_hiki.html

newarkdevil1
February 19th, 2010, 06:00 PM
We spend all this money on buying up open space but still do not have a comprehensive state plan for growth. We are more densly populated per a square mile than Japan yet overaly subsidize driving with the lowest gas tax in the nation...why?

JCMAN320
February 24th, 2010, 09:42 PM
Newarkdevil I couldn't agree with you more. Develop a higher gas tax to encourage more people to use NJ transit and car pooling.

In other news more open space in New Jersey preserved!

Sussex County preserves Hudson Farm Greenway in Byram Township as open space

By Lawrence Ragonese/The Star-Ledger
February 23, 2010, 5:27PM

http://media.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/photo/hudson-farm-greenway-projectjpg-16fafe50863e3a6d_large.jpg
Sandy Urgo/Courtesy of The Land Conservatory of N.J.
A scenic portion of Hudson Farm Greenway in Byram, Sussex County, in an undated file photo.

BYRAM TOWNSHIP -- A scenic 222-acre tract in Sussex County has been preserved for $4.2 million, successfully ending a four-year effort to permanently save the Hudson Farm Greenway in Byram Township.

The deal was finalized Friday and announced today by the Land Conservancy of New Jersey, one of several partners in the effort to secure the property, which will be used for natural and recreation purposes, including ballfields and trails.

"The Greenway is ideally located and connects neighborhoods and residents to trails that link to parks and natural lands,’’ said Sandy Urgo, land preservation manager for the Land Conservancy.

The Hudson Farm Greenway begins at Route 206 and extends north about 1.5 miles to C.O. Johnson Park on Roseville Road. The tract includes mature forest, with existing hiking trails and a ridgeline that provides scenic overlooks and views of Cranberry Lake. Johnson Lake lies in the middle of the greenway.

Byram plans to use 10 acres of what are now hay fields off Route 206 for a new park and athletic fields. Another 50 acres will be held for possible future expansion of C.O. Johnson Park. The other 153 acres were preserved for conservation and public access uses.

"It’s a beautiful piece of property right in the Highlands preservation area,’’ said Land Conservancy Executive Director David Epstein.

The greenway virtually connects C.O. Johnson Park with Allamuchy State Park, said Epstein, who noted the Highlands Trail is likely to be re-routed through this new public holding.

Partners in the deal with the Land Conservancy included the state Green Acres program, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Byram and the Sussex County Open Space Committee.

The project embodies most goals of Byram’s open space program, including conservation of water resources and forests, connectivity of natural corridors, public access to water bodies, off-road non-motorized access between parks, plus sites for future recreational facilities.

"The Hudson Farm Greenway project is a perfect example of how local, county and state agencies can all work hand in hand toward a common goal,’’ said Byram Mayor Jim Oscovitch.

A dozen years ago, billionaire investor/philanthropist Peter Kellogg bought the former Hudson Guild Farm in Hopatcong, which had been a charity fresh-air farm for the prior 50 years, and converted it into a semi-private target/instruction course and private commercial hunting preserve gun club catering to wealthy clientele. In 2007, Kellogg added the 900-acre Westby farm along Roseville Road in Byram and Andover to its growing holdings in Sussex, which now comprise some 4,000 acres in Hopatcong, Byram and Andover.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/02/sussex_county_preserves_hudson.html

newarkdevil1
February 25th, 2010, 10:28 PM
Honestly, the best hope I have for this reccesion is we rethink the way we do things and really realize that the state is not in a great position. We have lagged against national growth in the past two econimic cycles and just have too much government. I have Republican leanings but what I really want is a leaner state that really things about how we can actually grow, and it's not be building more highways! Oh, btw, I am all about raising the gas tax and having more tool roads, explain to me why we subsidize driving so much?

JCMAN320
February 26th, 2010, 09:25 PM
N.J. Assembly approves bill allowing development rights in protected Highlands

By Peggy Ackermann/Statehouse Bureau
February 25, 2010, 5:27PM

http://media.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/photo/monksville-west-milford-highlands-njjpg-d1ddcfdec966c862_large.jpg
AP Photo/Carmine Galasso/The Record
Fall foliage at the Monksville Reservoir in West Milford.

TRENTON -- The Assembly approved legislation today that would allow municipalities throughout the state to accept development rights from towns in the protected Highlands region.

"This will boost the Highlands Transfer Development Rights program so that landowners in the Highlands are fairly compensated for lost property value," Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Hunterdon), a sponsor of the bill, said in a news release. "If we create a better market for development rights, we will increase the odds that landowners are made whole for preserving their land."

The vote was 62-10 with three abstentions. Currently, only towns located in the Highlands region can accept the credits. The bill (A-602) expands that to allow any town in the state to accept them.

"This will open up a new revenue source for towns accepting the credits while allowing development to occur in more appropriate parts of the state," Peterson said.

The Highlands region, which comprises parts of Morris, Sussex, Warren, Passaic, Somerset, Hunterdon and Bergen counties, provides water for millions of northern New Jerseyans.
The legislation won praise from the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club.

“We think this is an important step forward in good planning and also for providing a mechanism to save open space in the Highlands,” Jeff Tittel, the organization's director, said in a news release.

The bill must clear the Senate before going to Gov. Chris Christie for his signature.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/02/nj_assembly_approves_bill_allo.html

newarkdevil1
June 2nd, 2010, 11:19 AM
City, The issue is the inherent bias that NJ had against it's cities as it allowed small municipatlities to break away from the cities. When I was over in Europe it was so much more obvious that a London, Munich, Warsaw all cover a large area with very diverse neighborhoods, not just their downtowns. Newark for instance lost towns such as the Oranges, Irvington, Nutlety, Bellville which then creates a disparity in town incomes and taxes. NJ has waaaay to much overhead for a state it's size and very little of our overhead seems to be dedicated to making our state streamlined and efficient.

Newarkguy
June 4th, 2010, 07:27 PM
:)The poor condition of New Jersey's Cities was and is intentional. Newark was stripped of ALL Essex county's land except for the ironbound- Downneck area. All of Essex County,as well as Hillside,Union,Kennilworth,Springfield,Summit and New Providence in Union County,was part or the town of Newark. Even west Hudson(Kearny,Harrison,East Newark)in Hudson County was then called Newark's Barbadoes Neck. There was no Hudson County back then. Both Newark and Jersey city, as well as Elizabeth were all in Essex County,Barbadoes neck today is Kearny,Harrison and East Newark,with Down neck(today's Ironbound) naturally across the Passaic River.When Newark realized that its future as a major US and world city depended on re-annexing back Essex,Union, and southern Bergen counties,Nj changed the annexation rules into a complicated, difficult to outright impossible process involving the need for PERMISSION from the town to be annexed. Not only that but even if a part of let's say...Bloomfield, with an unhappy population that feels Newark is better tuned to their needs , wanted to join Newark,They would need prmission from Bloomfield(never happen) BEFORE asking Newark to take them in!! Even when Newark was allowed to annex, it was forced to share! It was forced to split Woodside with Belleville as a condition for annexation. Newark was only allowed to annex Clinton township aka Camptown in small pieces over a 15 year period. NJ did this to give western Clinton-Camptown township enough time to become Irvington!!and so prevent Newark from growing any further.Only the Borough of Vailsburg was allowed into Newark whole after a vote that Nj thought would go against Newark(surprise!!)Nj eliminated the cities right to expand to compete nationally as well as internationally. As a result all have fallen from the ranks of prominent cities. (size matters!)This basically ended annexation in NJ for decades.New Jersey sees itself as a barrel tapped at both ends. North Jerseans look to New York City, and south Jerseans look to Philadelphia. New Yorkers and Philladelphians typically worked in these two cities and saw NJ as their bedroom community. NJ usually allowed townships of importance to annex smaller neighbors by Legislative fiat. They also could split by legislative fiat. referendums were a courtessy rarely utilized, since municipalities are "creatures" of the State Legislature,with the power to create or terminate a town's legal corporate existence. Then a no no happened, some NJ cities had the nerve to think that they too may become big and world famous, just like NYC,Boston, or Philly.Trenton annexed Chambersburg town whole, but only allowed a tiny piece of Ewing. trenton was soon stopped from growing after annexing tiny miltown. Today Trenton physically spreads deep into Mercer county,just as Camden covers west Camden co,but Trenton's restrictive boundaries strangled this city to death long ago.Camden sought to grow and rival Philly.But when Camden annexed Stockton, former Stockton treasurer Mr Greenwald refused to hand the town records to Camden city treasurer-manager MR Miller. Camden won the court battle,and NJ state supreme court to this day stands by the ruling that the annexation of Stockton to Camden city by Legislative fiat is constitutional on the grounds that NJ State Legislature has the sole power to create and dissolve municipalities. So nothing is stopping NJ cities from getting together and demand annexation by fiat. L.U.A.R.C.C. (Local unit area reorganization consolidation commission)is a sham because it wont consider where the BIGGEST savings in property taxes are...An Expanded Newark and Jersey City. In fact they have abandoned their reason de' etere. Former Governor Corzine formed LUARCC to recommend municipal annexations AKA consolidations and put them to a vote. Towns rejecting the common sence recomendations would get "punished" Now that Corzine has gone , LUARCC has betrayed itself by only focusing on "Municipal service"sharing"arrangements!! REPEAL LUARCC!!

questkid73
August 18th, 2010, 01:37 PM
I totally agree with most of your post Newarkguy. Its good to know that other people know what New Jersey has been doing to its cities for centuries now. I'm from Trenton and my city has been land locked for so long our surrounding townships which were once for the most part of the "Old Trenton" when the british still ran things we were the shiretown. Not only just restriction on land growth, but the state of NJ must of made some kind of back room deal with NYC and Philly to allow them to prosper by holding NJ cities down. We virtual have no markets of our own..NYC/Philly TV and Radio markets dominate us. Newark should easily be over a 100 sq miles and Trenton should also. When mercer county was formed trenton was suppose to have mostly all of its land within the city limits areas like Lawrence (formerly maidenhead) Hamilton (formerly Nottingham) were full of sleepy un organized villages that trenton claimed. And as far as Ewing Township this area was always claimed by Trenton it was its un developed territory, but when The city of trenton was incorporated it lost all of that area when it was Trenton township that area was renamed Ewing. Our cities need more land to develop and become truly great like they are. If we can get more politicians on board we could make significant change. ANNEXATION AND CONSOLIDATION NOW. NYC didn't really become what it is now until it annexed the other 4 boroughs. Toronto did this about 15 yrs ago....I'm sure it gave them a stronger tax base also better organization and thats what NJ cities needs. We can end urban sprawl if we expand our urban centers by filling in the gaps which will prevent sprawl. Reorganization is key.

Newarkguy
September 24th, 2010, 06:14 PM
I totally agree with most of your post Newarkguy. Its good to know that other people know what New Jersey has been doing to its cities for centuries now. I'm from Trenton and my city has been land locked for so long our surrounding townships which were once for the most part of the "Old Trenton" when the british still ran things we were the shiretown. Not only just restriction on land growth, but the state of NJ must of made some kind of back room deal with NYC and Philly to allow them to prosper by holding NJ cities down. We virtual have no markets of our own..NYC/Philly TV and Radio markets dominate us. Newark should easily be over a 100 sq miles and Trenton should also. When mercer county was formed trenton was suppose to have mostly all of its land within the city limits areas like Lawrence (formerly maidenhead) Hamilton (formerly Nottingham) were full of sleepy un organized villages that trenton claimed. And as far as Ewing Township this area was always claimed by Trenton it was its un developed territory, but when The city of trenton was incorporated it lost all of that area when it was Trenton township that area was renamed Ewing. Our cities need more land to develop and become truly great like they are. If we can get more politicians on board we could make significant change. ANNEXATION AND CONSOLIDATION NOW. NYC didn't really become what it is now until it annexed the other 4 boroughs. Toronto did this about 15 yrs ago....I'm sure it gave them a stronger tax base also better organization and thats what NJ cities needs. We can end urban sprawl if we expand our urban centers by filling in the gaps which will prevent sprawl. Reorganization is key.

thanks,very informative about Trenton's history. There is a book titled "New Jersey's Multiple Municipal Madness" by the late Nj senator Alan Karcher, which explains the crazy reasons that NJ has 565 municipalities,undersized cities,and how many Nj towns named themselves after great American heroes to hide the true reason for their founding.Such as intolerance for alcohol sales,anti Catholicism,anti Semitism,snobbish attitudes by wealthy villagers against paying for municipal services to poorer farmers in outlying areas,to the point of secession that created NJ's donut hole towns..

JCMAN320
October 12th, 2010, 01:58 AM
Middlesex County $2.65M grant to allows Woodbridge to buy Camel Creek property for open space
Published: Monday, October 11, 2010, 8:00 PM
Eunice Lee/For The Star-Ledger

http://media.nj.com/ledgerlocal/photo/8956710-large.jpg
Google Maps
A map of Woodbridge.vA $2.65 million Middlesex County grant will allow Woodbridge Township to buy a plot of land previously slated to become either 36 rental units or a strip mall, according to township officials.

WOODBRIDGE — A $2.65 million Middlesex County grant will allow Woodbridge Township to buy a plot of land previously slated to become either 36 rental units or a strip mall, according to township officials.

The 4.63 acres known as Camel Creek also sits just west of a golf course that township officials have been battling over since 2008.

The green acres funds recently approved by the Middlesex County freeholders ensures the land will remain a “pristine parcel and an environmental preserve,” township officials said.

The acquisition of Camel Creek is “not related at all” to the township’s efforts to take over the adjacent Colonia Country Club, said township spokesman John Hagerty.

No township funds will be used to purchase the land from Woodbridge-based Atlantic Realty Development, Hagerty said today.

Councilman Robert Luban, who represents Colonia, said he had been concerned that another development company would snatch up Camel Creek to position itself to gain future access to the golf course.

“It eliminates the worry for good,” said Luban. “I was always leery of that.”

Mayor John E. McCormac and township officials have previously claimed that a wealthy club member who bought the financially ailing golf course was planning to build on the 104-acre property.

The mayor previously submitted a township offer to pay $4.5 million for the club’s development rights, with an option to buy, which wouldn’t be exercised as long as the township received $100,000 annually.

Currently. a lawsuit between country club owner Matthew Lonuzzi, a New York real estate developer, against the township is on hold as both sides work towards a settlement, Hagerty said.

http://www.nj.com/news/local/index.ssf/2010/10/265m_grant_allows_woodbridge_t.html

mariab
October 12th, 2010, 01:58 PM
Exactly. Because you know, it makes much more sense to saturate the area with yet ANOTHER shopping center, then, when the population increases, use eminent domain to acquire someone's land for preserved open space use, as with Cornell Farms. Sorry if I didn't link this right. I'll try again later.


http://www.njeminentdomain.com/132184-print.html

JCMAN320
March 18th, 2014, 12:54 AM
NJ lawmakers open debate on newest open space proposal

By Ryan Hutchins/The Star-Ledger
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on March 17, 2014 at 4:24 PM, updated March 17, 2014 at 6:04 PM

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A view of a hay farm in Harding Township.
Star-Ledger file photo

TRENTON — Seeking to end a legislative stalemate over open space preservation, state lawmakers today began to debate a new proposal that would divert about $150 million a year in business taxes to protect land and historic sites in New Jersey.

With bipartisan support, the Senate Environmental committee voted to advance the measure (SCR84), although it was made clear the legislation could be amended to satisfy concerns from activists and other legislators.

“Everybody understands we may need to make some changes,” state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex, the committee chairman who is a sponsor of the measure, said at a Statehouse hearing today. “It’s a first step.”

The resolution, also sponsored by Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset), would ask voters to amend the state constitution to dedicate 6 percent of corporate business tax revenue for open space over the next 30 years. That would initially produce about $150 million in annual revenue.

Four percent of the business tax — about $100 million a year — is already dedicated for various environmental programs, including hazardous waste cleanups, ungrounded storage tank removal, water quality programs, reducing emissions from diesel-powered engines and park development.

Smith said several of the programs had been so successful they are no longer required, and that he understood Gov. Chris Christie’s administration had been using some of the money earmarked for a “watershed” program to pay the salaries of employees at the Department of Environmental Protection.

“That should be money that’s funded through the regular budgetary process,” he said.

The referendum would also ask voters to dedicate money awarded in environmental lawsuits and fines from environmental violations to finance the removal of underground storage tanks and cleanups at polluted sites, averting some of the other losses.

To place the question on the ballot this November, both houses of the Legislature must pass the resolution by a three-fifths majority.

The new proposals comes after the Legislature repeatedly failed last year to agree on a way to finance open space preservation, with each chamber moving in different directions.

A measure that asked voters to dedicate up to $200 million a year in sales tax revenue for open space over 30 years passed the Senate but died in the Assembly amid concerns about the huge price tag.

Conversely, a measure that would have asked voters to approve a one-time bond sale to generate $200 million for open space passed the Assembly but died in the Senate on the ground that it was not a long-term solution.

Tom Hester, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), said Democrats would take a look at the new proposal.

“Assembly leadership will review the bill, but at this moment no action is planned and the Assembly stands behind the $200 million bond referendum proposal it approved last session,” Hester said.

There were questions today about the expense of the new proposal, which would most likely cost billions of dollars over three decades.

“I’m not going to be able to support this particular bill because, as I look at it, it doesn’t create any new revenue,” Sen. Sam Thompson (R-Middlesex) told the committee. “Essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul. Thus it will create problems in areas that are currently being funded, that we have to find ways to fund them.”

But in a sign the new proposal may be the compromise lawmakers have been looking for, several leading environmentalists said they would support the legislation if adjustments were made. The Sierra Club, which fought Smith’s sales tax proposal last year out of concern that it would have led to cuts in other environmental programs, said it supported the new proposal.

“I think, with this bill, we are on the way to something else,” Jeff Tittel, the Sierra Club’s state director, said at the hearing today. “Is it perfect? No. Will it solve all our problems? No. But it’s a good place to start from.”

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/03/_nj_lawmakers_open_debate_on_newest_open_space_pro posal.html#incart_river_default

JCMAN320
March 20th, 2014, 12:33 PM
Christie looks to undermine Highlands Act: Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
on March 20, 2014 at 9:00 AM, updated March 20, 2014 at 9:06 AM

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View of Round Valley reservoir in Clinton Township, within the Highlands tract. (STEVE KLAVER / STAR-LEDGER)

At the time the Highlands Act was approved in 2004, bulldozers were knocking down forests at a raging clip in the region, equal to about 11 football fields a day. That reckless development was endangering the pristine aquifers in the region, which supply drinking water to about half the state.

Now that act is facing its moment of truth. Gov. Chris Christie is openly hostile to the law, but because he knows the Democratic-led Legislature would never repeal it, he has chosen to sabotage its work. He has packed the Highlands Council with conservatives who are openly hostile to the law, an act of breathtaking cynicism. And while the council is supposed to be independent, he strong-armed its weak members into firing the former executive director, Eileen Swan, because she was doing her job effectively.

Now the council is rewriting its master plan. And that presents a danger. Because if the new council lowers the environmental standards, as seems likely, the governor’s sabotage will have been successful.

The Highlands Act establishes strict rules on development in the region. And while that is in the state’s collective interest, it does create winners and losers. If a 100-acre farm can no longer be subdivided and sold to builders, it’s worth less than it was. The council meetings often devolve into arguments over compensation.

Some of the claims have been wildly exaggerated, but there’s no doubt that some landowners should be compensated. Basic fairness demands that, and the failure to do so fuels the opposition to this act.

Here again, though, the governor has failed the Highlands. The Green Acres and farmland preservation programs are key vehicles to compensate landowners, but the funds have run dry and the governor has proposed no fix.The best solution would be to impose a small fee on water from the Highlands, and use that money to compensate landowners by purchasing more open space. Many environmental groups favor the idea, but the governor is again AWOL.

The Highlands Act was a rare feat of legislative foresight. Undoing its environmental protections now would trade short-term relief for long-term risks.

Our hope is that the council keeps in place the tough protections of the water supply. And with that affirmed, it should move on to press for better compensation.

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/03/christie_looks_to_undermine_highlands_act_editoria l.html#incart_river_default

JCMAN320
July 31st, 2014, 01:39 PM
New Jersey dedicates 62-acre Hamilton plot as preserved farmland

By Mike Davis | Times of Trenton
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on July 29, 2014 at 9:40 PM

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The New Jersey State Agricultural Development Committee and Mercer County last month dedicated a 62-acre plot on Crosswicks-Hamilton Square Road as preserved farmland, removing any future development for the site beyond agricultural or light recreational uses. (Google Street View)

HAMILTON — Where the Black family once imagined a solar farm, they may have to settle for a simple agricultural one.

The New Jersey State Agricultural Development Committee and Mercer County last month dedicated a 62-acre plot on Crosswicks-Hamilton Square Road as preserved farmland, removing any future development for the site beyond agricultural or light recreational uses.

“The landowner continues to own the property, but the development potential has been stripped out,” said Brian Smith, an attorney with the State Agricultural Development Committee.

In 2011, property owner Barry Black and his son of the same name, doing business as BKB Properties, proposed turning the site into the township’s third solar farm, with thousands of solar panels that would produce about $70,000 in tax revenue and 10 megawatts into the local power grid.

After six hearings, the zoning board rejected the proposal in May 2012 amid concerns from residents that the solar farm would ruin quality of life in the area, especially considering the trees that would be removed in order to provide ample sunlight to the panels.

“Of all the open space in all of Hamilton Township, why did you choose the one space that’s zoned (rural),” zoning board vice chairman Anthony Celentano said at the time.

Smith said the preservation dedication permits agricultural uses as well as “passive” recreational activity, including cross-country skiing, hiking or fishing.

Intense recreation, such as the creation of ballfields or golf courses, is specifically excluded, Smith said.

If the property owners don’t wish to farm the property, they can lease its operation to other farmers.

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2014/07/new_jersey_dedicates_62-acre_hamilton_plot_as_preserved_farmland.html

JCMAN320
July 31st, 2014, 02:06 PM
For open space funding, Sen. President Sweeney and N.J. officials urge Assembly vote

By Michelle Caffrey | South Jersey Times
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on July 30, 2014 at 6:00 AM, updated July 30, 2014 at 1:42 PM

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Senate President Stephen Sweeney, right, listens to South Jersey Land and Water Trust President Suzanne McCarthy speak about the recent preservation of this 83-acre farm on Russell Mill Road in Woolwich Township that was slated to become a housing development, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (Staff Photo by Lori M. Nichols/South Jersey Times)

Standing before 82 acres of recently preserved farmland in Woolwich Township, local officials had one message to the state Assembly — keep the "garden" in Garden State.

The land along Russell Mill road was slated to be the site of 31 new homes, but was preserved through a combination of township, county and state funding.

The state funding that made the preservation possible has run dry, however, and officials said that if the state Assembly doesn't pass legislation to allow voters to weigh-in on a new funding mechanism in November, the farms that earned the state its nickname and fuel a large part of the state's economy, may vanish.

"We face a growing population and a shrinking land base," said Rob Hurff, president of the Gloucester County Board of Agriculture. "That's why it's so important. In the future, we're going to need land to farm, and farms feed people. Farms are food."

The state Senate has already approved legislation — in a bi-partisan vote of 36-to-1 last month — to ask voters whether or not they want to implement a sustainable funding program that would reallocate 4 percent of corporate business tax revenues to farmland preservation. The legislation would amend the state constitution to establish the new funding mechanism, and voters would be asked to ratify the amendment.

The 4 percent of business tax revenues total around $100 million annually and are already dedicated to environmental programs. Officials urging passage of the constitutional amendment said directing those funds to farmland preservation would provide state funding that's crucial to help local municipalities and counties invest in farmland preservation. More than half of the $1.46 million price tag on the 83-acre Woolwich farm, currently owned by developer Vince DeLuca of DeLuca Lot Investors, was provided by state farmland preservation funds.

The deadline to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot is quickly approaching. If the Assembly doesn't vote by Aug. 4, there's no hope for renewed funding, and townships like Woolwich — named one of the fastest growing communities on the East Coast in recent years — will be left scrambling to prevent rapidly expanding home development.

"If the New Jersey Assembly doesn't act quickly and adopt SCR-84, important projects here and across this great state will come to a grinding halt, because big land deals simply cannot happen without state funding support, period," said Woolwich Mayor Sam Maccarone, adding a project to preserve another 60 acres in the township has gained all necessary approvals, but is now in jeopardy due to the state's inability to meet its cost-share.

And it's not just South Jersey's sprawling farmlands that are at risk, said State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3 of West Deptford).

"This dire scenario is playing out in every county throughout New Jersey," he said, adding later the farm behind him was "a hell of a lot better than 31 homes."

It's an "incredibly dire" situation, said Tom Gilbert, president of Keep it Green NJ, a campaign to preserve the state's parks, natural areas, clean water, farmland and historic treasures.

He pointed to state Department of Agriculture statistics that show in order to sustain the current agricultural production rates that make farming the third largest industry in the state, more than 400,000 acres of farmland must be preserved.

Statistics also show that state preservation programs have significant return on investment, with every $1 spent on preservation returning $10 in economic value, including goods and services, water filtration, flood control, and support of the agriculture and tourism industries that play a vital role in the state's economy.

Not only does it help curb expansive home development projects, said Freeholder Director Robert Damminger, it helps local municipalities slow property tax growth by preventing further strain on township services, increases in school taxes due to increased populations and maintaining quality of life.

"It's time for the Assembly to put up or shut up," said Damminger.

If put on November's ballot, it's likely voters would approve the long-term funding amendment with a significant majority. Gilbert said a non-partisan poll surveying 600 likely voters showed 76 percent supported the legislation, including 85 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of other affiliations.

He's also encouraged by news he got on Tuesday that the Assembly may convene on Thursday, giving them a final shot at approving the legislation.

"They have one last opportunity," said Gilbert. "We're here to urge them to take that opportunity and make sure that New Jersey's bi-partisan legacy of preservation doesn't come to an end."

Woolwich resident Jim Valentine said he lives just down the road, and had no idea 31 homes were approved for the nearby farmland until he stopped by Tuesday's press conference. He's glad to hear of the push to continue to preserve farmland, for one simple reason, he said.

"Once it's gone, it's gone."

Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify that the legislation, SCR84, would amend the state constitution to establish the new funding mechanism, and voters would be asked to ratify the amendment.

---
Michelle Caffrey may be reached at mcaffrey@southjerseymedia.com

http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2014/07/sen_president_sweeney_local_officials_urge_assembl y_to_vote_on_dire_open-space_funding_bill.html#incart_related_stories

JCMAN320
November 5th, 2014, 03:00 AM
Election Day 2014: Voters pass N.J. open space amendment

By S.P. Sullivan | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on November 04, 2014 at 10:03 PM, updated November 04, 2014 at 10:38 PM

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New Jersey voters on Tuesday weighed in on a constitutional amendment that would dedicate funding toward open space acquisition. (S.P. Sullivan | NJ Advance Media)

WOODBRIDGE — New Jersey voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment that would dedicate money from a business tax toward open space preservation.

Question 2's passage was hailed by a coalition of more than 180 environmental groups, known as NJ Keep It Green, who raised more than $500,000 in a campaign blitz to drum up public support.

"It means the program can continue, and continue to protect fields and parks and water supplies well into the future," said Jeff Tittel, head of New Jersey Sierra Club, which supported the amendment.

The measure creates a permanent funding source for the state to buy and preserve open space. The money comes from the state’s corporate business tax, moving the 4 percent that’s already allocated for broader environmental programs toward the preservation of open space, and bumping that dedication up to 6 percent by 2019.

It was opposed by Gov. Chris Christie and the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, who argued that a constitutional amendment was the wrong way to allocate open space funds.

State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), one of the sponsors of the bill that put the question on the ballot, said the measure was the only way legislators could fund the popular open space program after previous attempts had been blocked by Christie and his allies in the Legislature.

“The voters understand that open space preservation, farmland preservation and historic preservation are absolutely essential to the future of this state," Smith said.

The amendment also saw opposition from a contingent of environmentalists concerned about its impact on programs that were previously funded by the corporate business tax, including toxic site remediation, water quality monitoring and even some salaries at the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"We have a difficult fight ahead to ensure that environmental programs are not cut or weakened, and current parks and historic sites are not left neglected while these land trusts rush off to buy new farmland and open space," said Scott Olson, an environmental advocate and open space supporter who publicly opposed Question 2.

Tuesday saw the 14th open space ballot initiative approved by New Jersey voters since the 1960s.

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/11/open_space_ballot_question_passes.html#incart_rive r

JCMAN320
February 6th, 2015, 03:02 PM
Christie OKs bill to help Highlands landowners who've seen property values plummet

By Louis C. Hochman | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on February 06, 2015 at 12:58 PM

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In 2009, al Danielson walks on the 12 acres of farm land in Hunterdon County that has been in his family for generations. He had planned to sell the land for home development but couldn't because of the environmental restrictions put in place by the 2004 Highlands Act. (ROBERT SCIARRINO THE STAR-LEDGER)

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie has signed a bill meant to further compensate property owners who've seen their property values drop under the state's Highlands Region environmental protections.

The bill passed both houses of the legislature in December, and Christie signed it Thursday.

New Jersey already had in place a special appraisal process for the property owners, but it expired in 2014. Under the bill, that process is extended through 2019.

It entitles owners to two appraisals -- one based on the present-day value and one based on the value predating the 2004 Highlands Act, which restricts development throughout much of northern New Jersey in the interest of protecting drinking water resources.

Those restrictions slowed sprawl but caused property values to plummet. Under the special appraisal system, owners could sell their land for preservation at whichever appraisal returns a higher value.

http://media.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/photo/2011/10/10183958-large.jpg
Len Melisurgo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

In December, bill sponsor State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) called dual-appraisal system one of the "key ingredients in making our open space program viable."

The Highlands Act covers 88 towns in seven northern New Jersey Counties, and has halted large-scale developments planned in dozens of towns. Proponents site it for protecting the quality of the state's drinking water and reducing flood damage, but opponents say it amounts to government overreach and has unfairly stripped properties of their value.

"We are glad the governor signed this legislation because it will help encourage land preservation in the Highlands," the New Jersey Sierra Club wrote in a statement Thursday supporting the legislation. But the group, a frequent critic of the Christie administration, also said the governor must do more: "The governor needs to support funding to preserve land in Highlands and stop trying to weaken Highlands protections."

"The best way to preserve land is to buy it, but we need more money than the current program to buy this land," the Sierra Club continued. "We should have a program dedicated just to preserve land in the Highlands, like a water fee, since we will need more money for land preservation."

In December, David Pringle, campaign director of the Clean Water Action, said the program should have been allowed to expire -- saying it weakens the Highlands Act and reduces funding available for conservation. He argued landowners could no more expect a future rate of return on their properties than stockholders.

"We could live with this for 5 years, but now it's 15 years and that's too much," Pringle said at the time.

Louis C. Hochman may be reached at lhochman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @LouisCHochman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/02/christie_oks_bill_to_help_highlands_landowners_who .html#incart_river

JCMAN320
March 3rd, 2015, 10:06 AM
Monmouth officials authorize $10M for new park, then blast Port Authority

By Rob Spahr | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on March 03, 2015 at 7:52 AM

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The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders has authorized spending $10.6 million to acquire a 87.8-acre parcel, which sits between New Brunswick (CR 516) and Wilson avenues in Aberdeen and Marlboro townships. (Google Maps)
Rob Spahr | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

ABERDEEN - The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders has authorized spending $10.6 million to acquire nearly 90 acres of land in the Freneau section of the township for a new county park.

The authorization did not come without some controversy, however.

In August, the Freeholders authorized spending $5.6 million towards the acquisition of the 87.8-acre parcel, which sits between New Brunswick (CR 516) and Wilson avenues in Aberdeen and Marlboro townships.

At that time, the Freeholders believed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was committed to fund the balance of the negotiated $10.6 million purchase price.

When the Port Authority's alleged commitment never materialized, the Freeholders increased the county's share of the purchase price by $2 million in December and then ultimately another $3 million last week to cover the entire cost.

Freehold Director Gary J. Rich said "time is of the essence" because the property's owners - Aberdeen/Wilson Associates, LLC. - intend sell the entire 87.8 acres by the spring.

Monmouth County will use funding from its Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protections, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund to finance the entire purchase, Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said.

"The Port Authority appears to be unwilling to honor its commitment of sharing to fund a project that will preserve significant portions of the Matawan Creek watershed and eventually provide a 250-acre park," Burry, liaison to the County Park System, said in a release. "The Port Authority's offer to help move this deal forward appears to have been withdrawn."

The new park would encompass hardwood uplands, open recreational areas and headwater lowland areas with significant storm water storage capacity, she added.

Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso said the Freeholders were "extremely disappointed" that the anticipated funding from the Port Authority Hudson Raritan Estuary Resources Program to help acquire the property might not be made available. The Board also adopted a resolution requesting that the Port Authority to "uphold their agreement to provide funding" for the acquisition.

"We have modified the County's cost-share twice to accommodate a change of heart on the part of the Port Authority," DiMaso said in a release. "We continue to ask the question, where is the funding?"

State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) praised the Freeholder, Aberdeen officials, NY/NJ Baykeeper and the Monmouth Conservation Foundation last week for the "tremendous job" they did to create the park, which he said was "several years in the making due to unthinkable complications."

"They've set an example for the rest of New Jersey and its local governments by finding a creative open space solution that will benefit generations to come," Kyrillos said in a release. "The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, on the other hand, has once again demonstrated government at its worst and proved to be an untrustworthy public entity by reneging on its years-long obligation to fund about half of this project. The Port Authority further lost the public's trust by failing to hold up their end in a compromise with the freeholders that would have allowed the agency to reduce its cost share by $2 million to fulfill its obligation."

On Monday afternoon, the Port Authority referred to a Sept. 2 letter Port Authority Chairman John J. Degnan sent to Kyrillos as its comment on the issue.

In the letter, Degnan said that he understood and sympathized with the legislator's frustration but that it was based on facts predicated the "erroneous perception" that the Port Authority made a commitment to allocate $5 million to be used toward the purchase of the property.

"The Port Authority Board has never been asked to approve such an expenditure," Degnan wrote. "Second, the unfortunate fact is that there are not sufficient, uncommitted funds from the original authorization of resources for this program to fully provide the $5 million request unless the Board were to redirect committed, but as of yet unexpended, funds from other worthy grants, a request which I could not support."

Even if the funding were to be allocated, Degnan said that pursuant to the Port Authority's Capital Plan it would not be available for several years which would not meet Monmouth County's short-term need to close the acquisition of the property.

"The only 'commitment' you have pointed out to me, or that I have otherwise been able to find, is a conversation you had with a former employee of the Port Authority who would not have had the authority to bind the Board," he wrote to Kyrillos. "In any event, I regret that there is nothing I can do now in light of the current unavailability of sufficient funds to meet the $5 million amount requested. I believe we have tried to make our position clear on this matter to you, the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper and local representatives."

If the Port Authority were to decide to commit funding assistance to the project, any funding received would be used to reimburse the county, according to a resolution the Board of Freeholders passed last week.

"In an area that is already heavily developed and is home to many commuters, a new park would go a long way to help to meet the recreation and open space needs of our citizens," Freeholder John P. Curley said in a release. "This Board will hold the Port Authority to their promise to help provide this new regional park."

Rob Spahr may be reached at rspahr@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheRobSpahr. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

http://www.nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/2015/03/monmouth_officials_authorize_10m_for_new_park_then .html#incart_river