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New Jersey to Be Built Out in 50 years

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Even with all the pro-active smart growth things New Jersey is known for, this little state geographically still has the most of the the new development acreage wise taken up by single house developments. Its a shame that Governor Corzine is against maintaining and keeping alive a conservation easement program that protects land from development.

Study sees N.J. fully 'built-out' within 50 years

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Gannett State Bureau


About 15,000 open acres of New Jersey are developed each year, including significant amounts in the central and coastal parts of the state, said a preliminary report released Tuesday by researchers from Rutgers and Rowan universities.

The report, issued about every 10 years, said the state over the past decade has lost 106,000 acres to residential and commercial development. This is similar to the rate of developed land between 1986 and 1995.

More land acreage was eaten up by a smaller amount of people, however, as single-unit residential homes made up the majority of the growth.

"In spite of "smart growth' and in spite of open space preservation, development pressure does not slow down," said John Hasse, an associate professor of geography at Rowan University and one of the authors of the report.

Hasse also said because the state is facing the inevitable full build-out, possibly within the next 50 years, the state should look to limit wasteful development and focus energy on responsible growth.

"New Jersey will get built out," added David Pringle, campaign director of the New Jersey Environment Federation. "The question is just what will it look like when it is built out."

Coastal counties -- Atlantic, Monmouth, and Ocean -- and Central New Jersey counties -- Middlesex and Somerset -- were "hot spots" for growth, said the report.

The study, however, did not look at whether more acres would have been developed if land tagged for development had not been preserved by things such as the Garden State Preservation Trust, which provides communities key funding to acquire open space and farmland and preserve historic sites.

As the money for the open space fund dwindles, the Department of Environmental Protection this month released a report estimating long term benefits from the natural environment at nearly $20 billion a year, including wildlife tourism, which it says generates about $3 billion.

The DEP and Rutgers/Rowan reports together have caused environmental groups to further step up calls for the renewal of the fund, citing environmental and economic reasons.

"Based on the enormous value of these resources to the people of our state, renewing the GSPT this fall is the only fiscally prudent course of action," said Tom Wells, director of government relations for the Nature Conservancy in New Jersey.

Environmentalists support putting a question on this November's ballot asking voters to dedicate $175 million in sales tax revenue annually for the next 30 years to pay for land purchases over the next 10 years. Gov. Jon S. Corzine does not support the ballot question and has said he would like an alternative long-term funding source, most likely from "monetizing" a state asset.


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Fricken A.

Well this report is more optimistic than opinions I heard a few years ago that we'd be built out by 2030. But still, the point remains that we've got to smarten up how we grow in this state. The ONE GOOD thing Jim McGreevey did was take a proactive stance on this issue by establishing the State Office of Smart Growth and supporting things like the Transit Villages Initiative, the Highlands Commission and the Pinelands Commission.

We need more investment in TVI; more investment in preservation (highlands, pinelands, and elsewhere); serious support and encouragement on transit projects such as ARC, the Secaucus Loop, Northern Branch, Essex BRT, and others; development and investment incentives for smart growth projects, commitments to COAH, and so many other initiatives. So, Honorable Gov Corzine et State Assemblypersons, let's get a move on!

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Places like Newark and Camden really need to step it up, become better cities to live in. Get rid of the blight and the crime problems, get some development to bring high density residential and commercial interests along. Reverse this trend of NJ being the state of suburb and strip mall.

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