Plan for population growth in our cities rather than suburban, rural towns

Written by Peter Kasabach | New Jersey Future/ Daily Record

40 Park, the seven-story mixed-use development that replaced Epstein's Department Store on the Green, is part of the downtown living renaissance in Morristown.

When it comes to planning and redevelopment, New Jersey is friendlier to the environment than many states.

After decades of uninterrupted suburban sprawl, we have come to recognize that our small, densely populated state cannot sustain this sort of growth any longer without doing grave damage to our environment, our economy and our quality of life.

We have created unique regional planning entities in the Meadowlands, Pinelands and Highlands to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems from over-development.

We have adopted a State Development and Redevelopment Plan that, while not mandatory, encourages growth in areas where infrastructure already exists and discourages it elsewhere.

We are blessed with an extensive transit network that offers a convenient alternative to automobile use for hundreds of thousands of daily commuters.
All levels of government — state, county and local — have purchased large parcels of open space and protected them from development.

Our air and water are measurably cleaner than they were a generation ago, many of the unsightly and odiferous landfills that once dotted the New Jersey landscape have been closed, capped and sealed and some of the nation’s worst toxic waste sites have been cleaned up and put to productive re-use.

Part of being environmentally friendly is figuring out the best way to accommodate the constant population growth that is experienced in New Jersey. Scores of communities, large and small, have adopted smart-growth principles and plans, revitalizing their downtowns, converting abandoned industrial properties into thriving mixed-use developments and taking advantage of their location along one of New Jersey’s commuter rail lines to catch the new wave of transit-oriented development.

Some of these activities have been hampered in recent years by the financial crisis and its unfortunate aftermath. The ailing economy has stalled building activity, including many redevelopment plans that have been proposed or approved but now sit in abeyance for lack of funding. READ MORE >>>

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