Somerset County’s Investment Framework Gets State Planning Commission Support
October 16th, 2013 by Elaine Clisham
At its Oct. 16, 2013, meeting, the State Planning Commission approved a resolution supporting Somerset County’s Strategic Investment Framework. The recognition is well deserved.
When the draft State Strategic Plan was first released for comment in late 2011, it represented a new approach to state planning – growth, development and preservation priorities would be based on criteria rather than a physical map. New Jersey Future supports this approach and has worked with representatives of the Office of Planning Advocacy as they have refined the draft plan through a series of public hearings.
Once the final draft plan was released, Somerset County went to work immediately to apply the plan criteria at the county and municipal levels to determine where in the county growth and development should be encouraged, and where the focus should be on land preservation. The result is the Strategic Investment Framework, a detailed, thorough, rigorous map for how and where the county intends to grow, that today’s resolution supports.
Somerset County’s work is to be commended on several levels:
- They engaged representatives from every one of their municipalities, and were able to secure substantial local support for the effort;
- They have shown how to translate and adapt the somewhat abstract Investment Criteria in the draft State Strategic Plan into a detailed county map that can be understood easily and that identifies clearly areas for growth and for preservation;
- They worked with the private sector, notably the Somerset County Business Partnership, to coordinate the Investment Framework’s local economic development strategies.
As if foreseeing the report from the director of the Office of Planning Advocacy that was presented at the Oct. 16 meeting, Somerset County is already using this framework to identify obsolete commercial properties in the county and to begin to develop appropriate revitalization options for each.
New Jersey Future congratulates and applauds all those who helped develop the Somerset County plan for their hard work and foresight, and we are delighted that this commission has seen fit to recognize its value. And while adoption of the state Strategic Plan has been stalled, we are confident that when it is adopted it will lend additional validity to the Somerset plan, both so that it can be used as a template for other counties throughout the state to produce similar investment frameworks and so it can guide state agency investments within Somerset County.