Working for Smart Growth:
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CNU President Is 2015 Forum Keynote Speaker

January 27th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

LRichardsIncoming CNU president Lynn Lynn Richards will be the keynote speaker at the 10th annual Redevelopment Forum. Ms. Richards has been the president and chief executive officer of the Congress for the New Urbanism since July 2014. Previously, Richards had a long and distinguished career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holding multiple leadership roles over 13 years including acting director and policy director in the Office of Sustainable Communities. She worked with dozens of state and local governments to implement placemaking approaches by developing policies, urban design strategies, and environmental solutions for vibrant, prosperous neighborhoods. Additionally, she produced groundbreaking research on water and land use strategies. Read the rest of this entry »

Extending Approval for State Plan Centers Could Harm Coastal Towns

January 23rd, 2015 by Megan Callus


Mystic Island endorsed center projected flooding vulnerability in 2050 under 1-percent storm scenario

On Dec. 18, 2014, New Jersey Future submitted comments (pdf) to the State Planning Commission (SPC) on its proposed Amendment to the State Planning Rules that would extend the period of approvals for any center designations granted by the commission prior to Sept. 6, 2008, by an additional three years beyond their otherwise applicable expiration dates.

Centers were created in the State Plan as a means of identifying areas most suitable for growth, while environmentally sensitive lands are kept protected. The state government provides incentives such as expedited and coordinated permit review to communities that undertake the planning necessary to create centers. Read the rest of this entry »

Rebuild By Design Projects Must Ensure Equity, Resiliency, Public Involvement

January 21st, 2015 by Megan Callus

Sandy-related flooding in Little Ferry, a municipality within the New Meadowlands project area. Photo credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Sandy-related flooding in Little Ferry, a municipality within the New Meadowlands project area. Photo credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New Jersey Future has submitted comments (pdf) on the state’s proposed Amendment 12 to the New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action Plan. This amendment details how the state will spend $380 million in Sandy rebuilding funds to advance two projects selected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through its Rebuild By Design (RBD) initiative. Rebuild by Design was a design competition of international architects, engineers and planning professionals to generate comprehensive long-term strategies for improving flood resilience in vulnerable communities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Workshop Attendees Learn Innovative Approaches to Addressing Combined-Sewer Overflows

January 20th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

Camden Mayor Dana Redd speaks to attendees at a workshop on addressing combined-sewer overflows.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd speaks to attendees at a workshop on addressing combined-sewer overflows.

At a Jan. 8 workshop that focused on ways to solve combined sewer overflow (CSO) problems in New Jersey’s cities, speaker after speaker stressed to attendees the importance of tackling the problem early; of emphasizing the visible benefits of addressing the problem; and of working in tandem with other projects in order to put the most durable and cost-effective solutions in place. Or, as Carter Strickland, the former commissioner of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, put it, “Be early. Be opportunistic. Be codependent.” Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey Future Staff To Speak at APA-NJ Conference

January 15th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

Documentary film Shored Up to be shown in special screening

APA ConferenceReflecting the diversity of issues on which New Jersey Future will be working in 2015, its staff will be leading four of the sessions at APA-New Jersey’s upcoming annual conference.

First, on Thursday, Jan. 29, David Kutner, New Jersey Future’s local recovery planning manager, will present a newly-developed interactive mapping tool that can help communities calculate the risk to their tax base of projected sea-level rise. The tool, built in conjunction with Princeton Hydro, can calculate various levels of loss at the parcel level depending on the extent of sea-level rise and storm surge. It has been used in the communities in which New Jersey Future is assisting with post-Sandy planning work as a way of prioritizing recovery and adaptation initiatives, and it can be used in any municipality for initiating the critical but difficult conversation about what must be done differently in the face of rising sea levels. (Assessing Financial Exposure to Sea-Level Rise, Thursday, Jan. 29, 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM.)

On Friday, Jan. 30, Chris Sturm, senior director of state policy, will moderate a panel on best practices in implementing green infrastructure, focused on tools such as model ordinances and innovative financing mechanisms that are designed to advance green infrastructure off the drawing board and into standard stormwater-management practices. Green infrastructure can not only help to manage stormwater but can also serve to create healthier, “green” communities, particularly in more urban locations, and provide much-needed local jobs and public amenities. (Moving Green Infrastructure From “State of the Art” to “Standard Practice,” Friday, Jan. 30, 9:30 – 11:00 AM.)

Also on Friday, Research Director Tim Evans will continue the conversation about creating great places to age in New Jersey that was begun with the publication of last year’s report on the topic. This session will examine which places are already well positioned to accommodate aging residents in terms of community design, accessibility to transit, and choice and affordability of housing, and will review practical steps all municipalities can take to help their residents stay as they age. (Creating Good Places To Age in New Jersey, Friday, Jan. 30, 3:15 – 4:45 PM.)

Friday afternoon, conference attendees are invited to a special screening of the film Shored Up, a thought-provoking, post-Sandy look at issues related to coastal development and coastal flooding from extreme weather in New Jersey and North Carolina. This Sundance award-winning documentary explores the likely impact of sea level rise, the effects on development of federal subsidies for both beach replenishment and flood insurance, and the politics and emotions that surround these topics. More than two years after the storm, these issues remain of critical concern to planners and policy makers. The screening will be followed by a moderated discussion. (Shored Up screening, Friday, Jan. 30, 3:15 – 4:45 PM.)

Finally, please join New Jersey Future at the Old Bay Restaurant in New Brunswick after the conference ends on Friday, for an informal get-together. Meet New Jersey Future staff, New Jersey Future members, and professionals in the field. Even if you’re not going to the conference, please feel free to join us! No charge, cash bar. (Meet and Greet, Old Bay Restaurant, 61 Church St., New Brunswick, 5:00 PM – ?)

Study Highlights Opportunities for Green Infrastructure in Trenton

January 6th, 2015 by Jane Rosenblatt

As part of its ongoing work to transform the Assunpink Creek in downtown Trenton into a new urban amenity, area stakeholders identified an opportunity to examine the feasibility of implementing various green-infrastructure strategies in the surrounding neighborhood. Implementing such strategies would help reduce the quantity of stormwater that flows into the newly daylighted creek; help clean the water that does flow into it; help control flooding in the surrounding neighborhood; and help enhance the park area around the creek as a restorative place for both residents and nature.

tesc rain garden
permeable pavement
parking lot pervious pavement

A rendering of outdoor space at Thomas Edison State College, retrofitted with rain gardens to capture stormwater where it falls.

Permeable pavement works by allowing rainwater to filter directly downward, rather than running off via storm drains.

Rendering of a parking lot area retrofitted with curb cuts, rain gardens and pervious pavement, all intended to prevent stormwater from running off into drains and waterways.

tesc rain garden thumbnail
permeable pavement thumbnail
parking lot pervious pavement thumbnail

To assess the feasibility of various green-infrastructure strategies, Rutgers New Jersey Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program studied the neighborhood immediately surrounding the creek. The resulting report describes the benefits and suitability of key green-infrastructure elements, including:

  • Bioswales and rain gardens, which catch rainwater and filter it rather than allowing it to run off;
  • Curb cuts, which redirect stormwater to areas that can absorb it rather than allowing it to enter a storm drain;
  • Pervious pavement, which directs rainwater underground rather than to storm drains;
  • Rainwater harvesting systems, such as rain barrels and cisterns, which capture rainwater before it hits the ground and stores it, either for use or later release.

The study also highlighted various locations within the study area that would be suitable for one or more of these strategies, including:

  • Thomas Edison State College, where rain gardens could be incorporated into existing outdoor areas to manage stormwater more effectively;
  • Mercer Street Friends, where harvesting systems could be installed to collect rainwater off the building’s roof so that it can will be available for various outdoor uses;
  • The Department of Agriculture parking lot, where rain gardens, curb cuts and pervious pavement could be used to keep stormwater runoff away from nearby drains and waterways.

The survey also reviewed community-engagement strategies such as workshops where residents can make their own rain barrels, and school programs to educate students about the importance of effective stormwater management.

The study has been shared with Trenton city officials and with the city’s green team. New Jersey Future and other stakeholders are actively seeking options that would allow the recommendations in the study to be implemented.

Download the study report.

Plan Released for Third Round of Federal Sandy Funds

December 19th, 2014 by Megan Callus

Focus of distributions is on housing and Rebuild By Design resiliency projects

Rendering of the New Meadowlands Rebuild By Design project.

Rendering of the New Meadowlands Rebuild By Design project.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the Christie administration released three proposed amendments to the New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action Plan. These amendments detail how the state will spend the remaining $882 million of the nearly $3.3 billion it has been allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for Sandy recovery. Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey Lags Behind in Some Key Real Estate Trends

December 12th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

ULI-PWC-report-coverA new report from the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers outlines several key emerging trends real-estate investors should look for in 2015. A review of the first chapter shows New Jersey is well positioned to capitalize on some of these trends, and modest fixes will help it catch up to others. But some of New Jersey’s deficiencies — transportation and water infrastructure in particular — will take significant investments to fix, and if we don’t fix them, we put ourselves at an ever-greater competitive disadvantage. Read the rest of this entry »

Opinion: We Can’t Afford the Price We Pay for Cheap Water

December 10th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

From our colleague Dan Van Abs, outlining the coming crisis in our water-supply system. This article was originally posted on NJ Spotlight.

Aging infrastructure, consumer complacency, artificially low prices all combine to make the state’s water supply a problem just waiting to happen

Crumbling water infrastructure in Hoboken.

Crumbling water infrastructure in Hoboken.

A gallon of tap water in New Jersey usually costs well less than a penny, roughly $400 a year per household. People may see that price as either cheap or expensive. Either way, it is a price New Jersey can’t afford.

Water utilities face the same general rules whether owned by government or the private sector. They must provide sufficient water to their customers to meet normal and peak demands, and that water must meet drinking-water quality standards.

The problem is too that few water utilities keep up with the costs of repairing and replacing their assets, as discussed in three recent reports my research teams prepared for New Jersey Future. Water utility managers acknowledged this issue in nearly every interview. The NJ Clean Water Council (which advises the NJ Department of Environmental Protection), the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Facing Our Future (funded by New Jersey philanthropic foundations) have raised similar concerns.

Read the full article on NJ Spotlight.

Economic Opportunity Act Retains Incentives’ Focus on Smart-Growth Locations

December 5th, 2014 by Tim Evans

The Camden waterfront, where Lockheed Martin will be relocating. Photo: Flickr user Todd Mecklem

The Camden waterfront, where Lockheed Martin will be relocating. Photo: Flickr user Todd Mecklem

The New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) was signed into law in September of 2013, consolidating five state economic development tax credit programs into two – the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program (Grow NJ) and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program (ERG). In the run-up to the EOA’s passage, New Jersey Future successfully advocated for these programs to include bonuses or priority treatment for applicants located in, or seeking to locate in, any of the following types of “smart-growth” locations: Read the rest of this entry »

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