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Christie Releases New State Strategic Plan

October 19th, 2011 by

Gov. Chris Christie today released a new State Strategic Plan, a blueprint for state investment in sustainable economic growth.  The governor also announced Executive Order No. 78, authorizing a cabinet-level steering committee to drive implementation.

The new plan’s mission is “to focus New Jersey’s policies and investments on vibrant regions by fostering targeted job growth, supporting effective regional planning and preserving the State’s critical resources.” Its vision statement calls for New Jersey to be “the national leader in private and public investment which supports sustainable communities that attract and provide strong economic opportunities, preserve our State’s natural resources, and create healthier communities to work, reside and recreate.”

Although only 40 pages long, the plan emphasizes an action agenda, organized into four goal areas:

  • Targeted Economic Growth, to help attract and grow key industries;
  • Effective Planning for Vibrant Regions, emphasizing center-based development and redevelopment in to-be-determined “Priority Growth Areas,” which are guided by 10 “Garden State Values” that reflect the goals of the State Planning Act;
  • Preservation and Enhancement of Critical State Resources, through strategic land preservation facilitated through sustainable funding and stronger land-use tools; and
  • Tactical Alignment of State Government, based on state agency functional plans that integrate the new state strategic plan through their own programs, rules, capital spending, staff training, etc. 

The State Strategic Plan is intended to meet both the spirit and the statutory requirements of the State Planning Act, and is proposed as the final draft of New Jersey’s State Development and Redevelopment Plan.  Its “Garden State Values” mirror the current State Plan’s focus on the environment, economy and equity, reflecting what the strategic plan calls “the appropriate balance of channeling growth toward existing infrastructure, promoting urban and first tier suburban redevelopment initiatives, protecting critical natural resources and promoting healthy lifestyles.”

New Jersey Future has long supported a state planning process that guides development and redevelopment to appropriate areas and protects our natural resources. No successful business can get where it wants to go without having a strategic plan. And no state can grow where it needs to grow without a clear strategy for investing in its long-term economic and environmental prosperity.

Unlike the current State Plan, the strategic plan does not specify planning areas, calling instead for the establishment of criteria for identifying and designating “Priority Growth Investment Areas” and “Priority Preservation Areas.” The former would include major urban centers, municipally designated redevelopment areas and other locations where infrastructure can support growth. The latter would include lands protected for agricultural use, as well as those “identified as important to protect for preserving open space and critical environmental resources.”

The State Planning Commission will serve its traditional statutory functions, with a stronger emphasis on public interaction and assisting in local government implementation.  The commission’s first task will be to resume cross acceptance with this proposed State Strategic Plan. Since five of the 10 public/local government seats on the commission are currently open, new appointments must be made quickly to ensure a robust public vetting process.

The responsibility for implementing the plan will fall to the new cabinet-level steering committee, which will manage tasks including: pooling funds for strategic investment, ensuring consistency of agency plans, and serving as a venue for state agencies to resolve conflicts.

New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach released the following statement in response to the governor’s announcement:

“New Jersey Future has long supported a state planning process that guides development and redevelopment to appropriate areas and protects our natural resources.

“No successful business can get where it wants to go without having a strategic plan. And no state can grow where it needs to grow without a clear strategy for investing in its long-term economic and environmental prosperity.

“We are pleased that the governor says he will take steps to make this happen, directing all state agencies to work collectively toward this common vision.

“We look forward to working with the administration in fine-tuning this new plan to ensure, as its details emerge, that it will lead to wise and prudent investment of public and private resources that will revitalize our cities and towns, preserve our open spaces and put our state — and all its citizens — on a path to a prosperous and sustainable future.”

In particular, New Jersey Future will be seeking full integration of the “Garden State Values” into decision-making, including state agency functional plans and the criteria for priority growth and preservation areas. The very first of the 10 “Garden State Values” sets a very strong tone and direction for accomplishing this task:

“Concentrate Development and Mix Uses: Promote development in Priority Growth Investment Areas that are compact, conserves land and offers shopping and services within convenient walking distance of home and jobs. Build with suitable designs and densities that support walking, biking and public transportation.”

In addition, New Jersey Future will encourage the governor and the Legislature to move this process along by filling all the existing vacancies on the State Planning Commission.

(More information on the State Strategic Plan)


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