New Jersey State Plan and Associated Initiatives

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This project is unique in its status as the first series of state-wide initiative created by a state planning agency.These various policies, funding sources, and codes are intended to foster an environment where implementation of the Charter principles becomes the rule, rather than the exception.

Location: Various Locations, New Jersey, United States. State

New Jersey State Plan and Associated Initiatives

In creating its Development and Redevelopment Plan, the state of New Jersey’s planning office has distinguished itself as the creator of the first state model plan promoting policies and practices consistent with the New Urbanism. The plan is a unifying framework for a variety of statewide smart growth initiatives. These various policies, funding sources, and codes are intended to foster an environment where implementation of the Charter principles becomes the rule, rather than the exception.

“Much of what’s in this plan is exemplary,” says juror Laurie Olin. “The plan is soil in which great policies can take root.”

Two successive administrations have instructed state agencies to comply with the plan’s vision, and state agencies are further encouraged to comply as discretionary funding is allocated, regulatory programs are implemented, and direct investments are targeted. The State depends on voluntary compliance to implement the plan at the local level.

Juror Anne Vernez-Moudon says, “The plan is an excellent and unusual state-level attempt to address design and re-design issues posed to 20th Century suburban development.”

The Department of State Planning calls itself “proactive in unabashedly promoting design policies and practices that are entirely consistent with the Charter of the New Urbanism.” Since the plan was adopted in 1992, state agencies have been under orders to “reengineer” their policies and programs to fit into its structure. Some of the resulting programs include:

Some of the most comprehensive pro-urbanist programs in the nation are currently in place in New Jersey. Designing New Jersey is a statewide policy that addresses all aspects of neighborhood and street design. Planning efforts in line with the State Plan include state-sponsored neighborhood planning, Smart Growth planning grants, watershed management, transfer of development rights, and coastal zone management. The State has a program to connect local governments with collegiate design studios for planning assistance.

To improve the state’s cities, there are programs for neighborhood preservation, rehabilitation of mixed-use buildings, and expedited permitting. Many departments are coordinating on urban strategy, in order to help implement the goals of the State Plan. A Rehabilitation Subcode has been added to the state’s Uniform Construction Code, removing regulatory and economic barriers to adaptive reuse.

The state Brownfields Program focuses on the estimated 10,000 contaminated sites in the state, linking smart growth objectives with site remediation concerns. The related 1998 Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act provides liability protection, financial incentives, and tax incentives for brownfield development.

In transportation planning, the State has context-sensitive design for state highways and advanced pedestrian and bicycle programs. The State is also sponsoring mixed-use, high-density transit-oriented development at rail stations, including some development on former brownfields. The state is building and improving its rail transit, including both extensions of existing lines and new starts.

The Garden State Preservation Trust Act is preserving one million acres of open space and farmland, half of the undeveloped land of the state.

Finally, the plan has raised awareness of smart growth and new urbanism throughout all levels of government, within interest groups, and in the general public.

Juror Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk voiced the jury’s recognition of how this plan has mixed real-world politics with the ideals of the Charter. “This project is great in some ways,” she says, “Yet it will take more work to fulfill its goals. With time, the New Jersey State Plan may prove to be the first of many exemplary state-wide plans.”

Project: New Jersey State Plan and Associated Initiatives
Site: Multiple sites in New Jersey
Program: Adopted in 1992, the New Jersey State Plan spawned innumerable initiatives focused on improving the environment, preserving open space, retaining farmland, and making Smart Growth economically feasible

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Planner/ Public Agency: New Jersey Department of Community Affairs- Office of State Planning

Transect Zone(s): T1 preserve.
Status: <Unknown>
Project or Plan's Scale: Region
Land area (in acres): 5582080
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Project team designers: New Jersey Department of Community Affairs- Office of State Planning
Project team developers: New Jersey Department of Community Affairs- Office of State Planning

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Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: 1992 -