new jersey
Population: 7,945,000
Counties: 21
Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco

Key Laws/State Agencies/Court Decisions/

Click here for the amount of protected land in New Jersey, and click here to review New Jersey's federal transportation spending.
Source:  Pew Center on the States & Changing Direction:  Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Surface Transportation Policy Project

Current Statewide Campaigns:
New Jersey Future has instigated a statewide smart growth campaign publicizing policies local governments can institute to enable smart growth.  For affordable housing the campaign suggests the following:

  • Replace today's affordable housing system with a system that eliminates builder's remedies, but requires communities to build affordable housing as a fixed percentage of their growth.  
  • New Jersey should adopt a "Growth Share" approach endorsed by several housing advocates.  Under this approach, every municipality would project and quantify its residential, commercial and industrial growth over the next 10 years, and be required to set aside a fixed percentage of that growth for affordable housing.
  • Abolish Regional Contribution Agreements.  RCA money currently funneled into needy communities for additional affordable housing can be replaced by tax sharing and other needed modifications to today's property tax system.
Contact Information:
New Jersey Future
114 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608

Key Laws:
For an overview of New Jersey's planning and zoning statutes, see a summary provided by the American Planning Association

State Planning Act (1985) (NJSA 52:18A-196 et seq.)     In 1985, the New Jersey State Legislature adopted the State Planning Act.  The Act created a 17 member State Planning Commission and an Office of State Planning to address statewide planning issues. It mandated that the Commission: 

  • prepare and adopt within 18 months after the enactment of the Act, and revise and re-adopt at least every three years thereafter, a State Development and Redevelopment Plan which would provide a coordinated, integrated and comprehensive plan for the growth, development, renewal and conservation of the State and its regions; 
  • prepare and adopt as part of the State Plan a long-term infrastructure needs assessment, which would provide information on present and prospective conditions, needs and costs with regard to State, county and municipal capital facilities; 
  • develop and promote procedures to facilitate cooperation and coordination among State agencies and local governments. 
The Act legislated a cross-acceptance process that requires municipalities, stakeholders and citizens to coordinate planning. Cross-acceptance requires the state’s 21 counties and its 566 municipalities to conduct a detailed review of their own land-use and functional plans, as well as ordinances and regulations implementing those plans. 

State Development and Redevelopment Plan  Adopted in 1992, the Plan is the first to be adopted by the State Planning Commission and is aimed at directing current and future development toward existing urban centers. The Plan creates a statewide policy structure with goals and strategies.  Three of those eight goals include: 
• Revitalize state's urban centers and areas 
• Conserve state's natural resources 
• Promote beneficial economic growth, development and renewal 
The Plan creates a statewide planning map that designates growth and preservation areas.  The Plan is not a regulation but a policy guide to coordinate the planning and decision making process of state, regional and local agencies. 

On March 31, 1999, the New Jersey State Planning Commission approved a "new and improved" version of its blueprint for "smart growth". The approval of the 1999 Interim Plan is one of  the steps in the extensive public "cross-acceptance" process to review and revise the 1992 State Development and Redevelopment Plan. Following an independent assessment of the potential fiscal, social and environmental impacts of the Interim Plan and a series of public hearings, the Commission is expected to adopt a revised State Plan in December 1999. 

On March 1, 2001 the State Planning Commission adopted its latest blueprint for growth in New Jersey.

New Jersey Future provides a useful website on the New Jersey State Plan.

Green Acres, Farmland and Historic Preservation, and Blue Acres Bond Act of 1995, (P.L.1995, c.204), and nine previous similar bond acts enacted in 1961 ("New  Jersey Green Acres Bond Act of 1961"  P.L.1961, c. 46), 1971 (P.L.1971, c. 165), 1974 (P.L.1974, c. 108), 1978 (P.L.1978, c. 118), 1981, 1983, 1987, 1989, and 
1992, and various implementing laws. The Green Acres Program was created in 1961 to meet New Jersey's recreation and 
conservation needs.  Green Acres focuses primarily on acquiring land that creates linkages between existing protected lands to form open space corridors.  So far, more than 390,000 acres of conservation and recreation land have been or are being preserved. On November 3, 1998, New Jersey voters approved a referendum which creates a stable source of funding for open space, farmland, and historic preservation and recreation development. (See below under "Senate Concurrent Resolution 66.") 

Other Laws:
N.J. Stat.  Ann., 40:55D-42.  Authorizes a municipality to adopt an ordinance requiring a developer to pay the pro-rata share of the costs of providing reasonable and necessary street improvements and water, sewer and drainage facilities, that are located outside the development boundaries but necessitated by construction within the development boundaries.  The impact fee may be assessed as a condition for approval of a subdivision or cite plan. 

Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act.  Governor Whitman signed the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act on January 6, 1998.  The Act created the Brownfields Redevelopment Task Force, an eleven member task force consisting of government entities confirmed by the Governor. The Brownfields Program at the New Jersey State Planning Office

The Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund is a financing program targeted at New Jersey brownfield situations. This program includes $75 million low-interest loan/grant program and loans and grants up to $1 million to private entities for remediation activities. To learn more about the program, click to The Northeast-Midwest Institute's state-by-state brownfields matrix at 

The Regional Plan Association reviews New Jersey Brownfield programs on its website.  Click to New Jersey Metropolitan Brownfields Initiative

Senate Concurrent Resolution 66.   Passed by the electorate on the November 1998 ballot as Public Question No. 1, the constitutional amendment dedicates $98 million annually from the state sales tax over 10 years to purchase land for recreation and conservation purposes, farmland conservation preservation, and historic preservation.  In March,1999, Governor Christie Whitman, Senate President Donald DiFrancesco and Assembly Speaker Jack Collins announced the introduction of the legislation to implement the ballot initiative.  "The Garden State Preservation Trust Act" provides that $6 million of the Fund will be allocated annually for historic preservation and the remaining funds will be shared between open space and farmland at a 60/40 percent ratio. 

The New Jersey Chapter of the APA website contains an excellent legislative monitor. 

State Agencies:
New Jersey Office of State Planning
Staff of the NJ State Planning Commission and the NJ Brownfields Task Force. Through the State Plan, the Office works to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of land
development and infrastructure. 

New Jersey State Long Range Transportation Plan
Offers a current status report on the statewide long-range transportation plan being developed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and NJ TRANSIT.

Court Decisions:
Hillsborough Case In 1996, the New Jersey Council of Affordable Housing (COAH)  issued its approval for construction of a large adult housing development in the scenic township of Hillsborough on open, agricultural land -- land that the Plan identified as inappropriate for intensive development.  New Jersey Future sued the state for ignoring the State Plan. The Appellate Division of the State Superior Court ordered COAH in 1998 to re-examine its decision.  Five months later, COAH rescinded its certification for development. Source: New Jersey Future, Land Use Case Summary

"Living with the Future in Mind: Goals and Indicators of New Jersey's Quality of Life."
1999 Sustainable State Progress Report. New Jersey Future

"State preservation trust calls for millions more to save land," The New Jersey Star-Ledger.
April 19, 2001.

"A town's development dilemma:  Designated as an area for high-density growth, Egg Harbor is now trying to cope with progress," Philadelphia Inquirer. March 25, 2001.

"Last Hope to Cut Sprawl Put into Action." The New Jersey Star-Ledger. March 2, 2001.

"Building Schools in the Middle of Nowhere." The New Jersey Star-Ledger. February 21, 2001.

"State Plan to Help Pinelands." The New Jersey Star-Ledger. February 20, 2001.

"Whitman Toughens Rules for Developers." The New Jersey Star-Ledger. January 24, 2001.

"Forest Legacy Program saves 525 more acres of Farny Highlands."  Gannett News Service.  December 9, 2000. 

"Flashy Downtown Revival Rests on Neighborhoods."  November 27, 2000. 

New Jersey Future is a nonprofit organization founded by 1987 by concerned civic, environmental and corporate leaders in New Jersey to address the state's rapid growth.  Today, New Jersey Future continues to advocate for planning, conservation and economic development policies that will help crete a sustainable future. 
Barbara Lawrence, Executive Director.  Contact: 204 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608, fax 609/393-1189.

MSM Regional Council
Middlesex Somerset Mercer Regional Council (MSM) was established in 1968 to advocate the best use of the land in the MSM region. MSM was founded on the premise that successful land use policies cross municipal boundaries, bridge the public and private sectors, and relate to all the region’s citizens. Contact: MSM Regional Council, 870 Mapleton Road, Princeton, NJ 08540-9538, Phone: 609/452-1717. 

Regional Plan Association
Regional Plan Association is the nation's oldest and most influential independent  regional planning organization.  Since 1923, RPA has worked to improve the quality of life in the 31-county New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area by creating long-term comprehensive plans and promoting their implementation across political boundaries. 

New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association
The mission of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association is to promote sound planning as a process essential to improving the quality of life of the citizens of New Jersey. 

New Jersey Historic Trust
Established in 1967, the New Jersey Historic Trust is the only nonprofit historic preservation organization in New Jersey created by State law. P.O. Box 457, 506-508 E. State Street, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0457, phone: 609/984-0473