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Survey Will Help Sandy-Affected Towns Address Future Flood Risks

August 26th, 2014 by David Kutner

mouse-surveyA new survey, commissioned by New Jersey Future and the Sandy-affected communities where its local recovery planning managers are working, will help provide information on how well-prepared community members are to address the risks they face related to flooding and sea-level rise.

The survey, administered by Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Social and Decision Sciences, asks community members to share their beliefs and understanding about flooding and sea-level rise. The results will assist those communities in developing public outreach and education strategies that provide the most relevant and helpful information on ways the community can prepare itself for flood-related risks.

The local recovery planning manager program has placed recovery managers in six New Jersey towns that were especially hard-hit by Sandy — Highlands, Sea Bright, Little Egg Harbor, Tuckerton, Commercial and Maurice River. Through a grant to New Jersey Future, the recovery managers are available at no cost to help their communities with long-term recovery and resiliency planning.

After researchers from Carnegie Mellon compile survey responses, the results will be presented to municipal officials, who will then review the findings at public meetings in each of the towns. The meetings will also serve as forums for public input on various land use planning and public investment strategies the communities could consider to help reduce exposure to future flooding and storm events.

The survey will be open until Sept. 30, and all residents in the six towns are encouraged to complete it.

Flood risk survey

Shared Investment in Urban Water Systems Will Lead to Clean Rivers, More Vibrant Communities

August 25th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

By Chris Daggett and Margaret Waldock

Chris Daggett is the president and chief executive officer of The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Margaret Waldock is the foundation’s environment program director.

Cross-posted from The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s Inspiring Solutions series on urban water infrastructure

Chris Daggett

Chris Daggett

Stormwater can be our savior if we view New Jersey’s water infrastructure crisis as an opportunity to create the kinds of communities we want to live in — healthy, resilient, walkable places with tree-lined streets, green buildings, clean rivers and vibrant waterfronts.

Twenty-one urban communities in New Jersey are facing a daunting challenge — a need to upgrade century-old, combined sewer systems, where sewer and stormwater lines are connected. When it rains, sometimes as little as one-half inch, the sewage treatment plants reach capacity, causing polluted water to bypass treatment plants, flow directly into waterways and, in the worst cases, flood neighborhood streets.

Margaret Waldock

Margaret Waldock

The result is a risk to public health, urban waters, and the prospect of stymied economic investment and revitalization. We need to act, but these communities cannot shoulder this burden alone while they are juggling many other equally urgent issues, such as creating jobs, reducing crime and strengthening public education.

Federal and state regulations require that cities must control these combined sewer overflows. By year’s end, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will issue final permits for the cities with these systems, requiring development and implementation of long-term control plans.


Read the full article on The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s website.

New Jersey’s Urban Water Systems: A Challenge, and an Opportunity for Collaboration, Engagement, Innovation, Vision

August 4th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

Chris Sturm and Peter Kasabach share their thoughts on how New Jersey can turn this urban water infrastructure crisis into an opportunity for long-term prosperity.

New Jersey Future representatives recently participated in a dialogue on the challenges and opportunities related to the future of the state’s urban water infrastructure. The dialogue, titled Inspiring Solutions and hosted by The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, is meant to spark conversation on the future resiliency of the state’s urban water supplies.

This past May, New Jersey FutureThe Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, and The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation convened a group of New Jersey leaders from environmental organizations, water utilities, economic and community development organizations, the private sector, and local, state and federal government to develop and issue an action agenda to catalyze the transformation of New Jersey’s urban water infrastructure. Read the rest of this entry »

Proposed CAFRA Rule Amendment Increases Dangers from Flooding and Future Storms

August 1st, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

New Jersey Future’s Chris Sturm and summer intern Kevin Burkman are the authors of this article. 

New Jersey Future’s comments call for more stringent protections.

Sandy damage -- resiliencyNew Jersey Future has submitted comments to the proposed amendment and consolidation of the state’s Coastal Zone Management and Coastal Permit Program rules. These rule changes fail to acknowledge rising sea levels which will subject people and businesses in coastal regions to more pronounced and repeated flooding across progressively large areas.

Instead of providing greater protections, the rule increases exposure to risk.  Of particular concern are two provisions: The first allows for more development in high-risk areas; and the second permits more non-water-dependent uses such as restaurants at marinas, which will allow more businesses in dangerous locations and threaten sensitive coastal habitats.

In our comments we call for the DEP to rewrite these rules in such a way as to incorporate long-term protection of people, property and coastal resources from adverse impacts of sea level rise. The rules should include more stringent standards for the preservation of waterfront areas, higher building elevation requirements, and greater development setbacks from dunes and tidal waters.

Read our full comments.

New Report Highlights Opportunities To Protect Pinelands Water Resources

July 29th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

This article was written by New Jersey Future Senior Director of State Policy Chris Sturm and Planning and Policy Analyst Nick Dickerson.

Future development and water withdrawals must be designed to enhance,
not degrade, water resources.

Pinelands ReportNew Jersey Future has released a new report highlighting the ways that water resources in the Pinelands have been affected by development; the pressures we can expect going forward; and what can be done by municipal, regional and state agencies to minimize their negative impacts.

Evidence shows that for more than three decades, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission has been tremendously successful at preserving land and steering development to designated growth areas.   “But ensuring clean, plentiful water for future generations requires much more,” said Pete Kasabach, New Jersey Future’s executive director. “Since pollution comes from human activity, we must shape future growth to be “water-wise”– recharging groundwater, managing stormwater runoff, using native plantings and employing water conservation techniques.” Read the rest of this entry »

New Draft COAH Rules Ignore Potential of Redevelopment

July 25th, 2014 by Peter Kasabach

The G.G. Green Opera House in Woodbury, a 2014 Smart Growth Award winner, which is being repurposed into affordable housing.

The former G.G. Green Opera House in Woodbury, a 2014 Smart Growth Award winner, is being repurposed into affordable housing.

Following a review of the newest draft affordable-housing rules, New Jersey Future has joined the New Jersey chapter of the American Planning Association and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey in submitting an amici curiae brief to the state Supreme Court in support of a lawsuit challenging those rules.

While the lawsuit, brought by the Fair Share Housing Center, objects to the draft rules on several grounds, the brief New Jersey Future has joined focuses specifically on a new methodology used to calculate a municipality’s affordable-housing obligation. This methodology, referred to in the brief as the Buildable Limit methodology, reduces a municipality’s affordable-housing obligation if it has been determined that there isn’t sufficient new land available on which the required new housing units reasonably may be built. Read the rest of this entry »

Bell Labs Redevelopment a Sign of the Future

July 24th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

This article was written by New Jersey Future intern Kevin Burkman.

Bell Labs

The Bell Labs facility in Holmdel. Photo: Kevin Burkman

On June 24, 2014, in the atrium of the Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) sponsored a conference focused on the redevelopment of this facility, as well as the challenges faced when attempting to repurpose the many outdated office campuses scattered across the suburbia.

In 1961, Bell Labs opened its massive research facility in Holmdel. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen and set on 473 acres, the two-million-square-foot facility once housed over 5,000 employees and in the ensuing four decades would play a large role in the development of transistors, lasers, cell phones and fiber-optic communications.  This facility, and many others like it, would transform the American landscape for decades, as office campuses sprang up along highways, far from urban cores and public transportation, in search of low taxes and inexpensive land.

However, it appears this period in suburban land use history is coming to an end, as drastically changing demographics and technology have turned these outmoded facilities into what were called at the conference “stranded assets.” The Bell Labs facility, acquired by Alcatel-Lucent in 2006, was closed in 2007 and has been vacant since then. Read the rest of this entry »

Hopewell Becomes First Municipality in New Jersey To Adopt Complete Streets Ordinance

July 2nd, 2014 by Marisa Dietrich

In July 2010, Monmouth County became the first New Jersey county to adopt a Complete Streets policy, modeled after the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT)’s own policy adopted in December 2009. Over the next four years, other counties and towns slowly began to adopt their own Complete Streets policies, many modeled on the state policy. New Jersey was also one of the first ten states in the nation to make Complete Streets an official internal policy. In June of this year, Hopewell became the 103rd municipality to adopt such a policy and the first municipality to do so via a Complete Streets ordinance. According to Township Administrator/Engineer Paul Pogorzelski, “We decided that this policy should be in the form of an ordinance and have the weight of law rather than simply be part of a resolution which does not transcend governing body changes.“

In amending and supplementing its general ordinance governing streets and sidewalks, the township declared that it was making a commitment to creating street corridors that will accommodate road users of all ages and abilities and will give consideration to all types of uses. Going forward, Hopewell promises to work to retrofit as many streets as possible so that they will be amenable to pedestrians, cyclists, and all types of vehicles and in order to make them feel safer for all users, including children, older citizens, and the mobility-challenged.

Hopewell Complete Streets - CR518 before
Hopewell Complete Streets - After CR518

Before: County Road 518 near Hopewell, NJ catered solely to automobiles; Photo Credit: NJDOT

After: The new design of County Road 518 includes a bicycle lane and stormwater management elements; Photo Credit: Parsons Brinckerhoff

Hopewell Complete Streets - CR518 before  thumbnail
Hopewell Complete Streets - After CR518 thumbnail
Read the rest of this entry »

Hoboken’s Newest Green Infrastructure Project Takes a Step Forward

June 26th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

New Jersey Future summer intern MicKenzie Roberts-Lahti is the author of this article. 

Rendering of proposed Southwest Park in Hoboken. Photo credit: Starr Whitehouse

Rendering of proposed Southwest Park in Hoboken. Photo credit: Starr Whitehouse

The City of Hoboken has received a $250,000 grant for the next phase of construction of Southwest Park. This grant, from the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will fund the engineering designs needed to transform a one-acre parking lot into a green park.

Southwest Park was the subject of one of several stories in New Jersey Future’s new report, Ripple Effects: The State of Water Infrastructure in New Jersey Cities and Why it Matters, that highlight how water infrastructure affects people. Stormwater management, especially in urban areas, is a growing problem in New Jersey because of the age of much of its water infrastructure. Hoboken is one of the 21 cities in the state that have combined sewer systems, meaning both sewage and stormwater are handled by the wastewater treatment plant. During heavy rain events these combined sewers overflow, causing local property damage and affecting water quality by sending dilute raw sewage into local waterways. Read the rest of this entry »

Placing Economic Value on Natural Systems

June 25th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

New Jersey Future summer intern Kevin Burkman is the author of this article. 

Photo courtesy of Blue Raritan

The sixth annual Sustainable Raritan River Conference, “Valuing Natural Capital and Ecosystems Services,” focused on ecosystem valuation. Placing economic value on ecosystems is a concept that attempts to recognize the financial importance of natural systems such as forests, waterways, air and open space. These natural attributes provide important ecological services, including water and air purification, nutrient and sediment controls, pollination, and flood protection. Retaining or rehabilitating these “services” is key to reducing the substantial costs of mitigating the sometimes deleterious effects both nature and humans can have on the landscape. These ecosystem services may also generate new direct revenues.

Over a dozen speakers at the conference, including academics, professionals, conservationists and municipal leaders, discussed the importance of quantifying the values of natural systems and integrating them into the economy, planning, and human and environmental health.

Patricia Elkis, deputy director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), focused on a particular type of natural capital: open space. Her presentation, “Return on the Environment and Quantifying Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania,” looked at that region as a case study and highlighted the economic and health importance of open space and trail systems. Read the rest of this entry »

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