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New Report Highlights State’s Water Infrastructure Crisis

May 6th, 2014 by Chris Sturm


New Jersey’s cities face a multi-billion-dollar price-tag to fix combined sewer systems that dump over 7 billion gallons of raw sewage into our waterways every year.  

Ripple Effects - Report PageNew Jersey Future has released a major report highlighting the extreme degree to which the water infrastructure in New Jersey’s oldest cities is in disrepair; the threat this represents to those cities’ economic vitality; and the many barriers faced by efforts to repair and upgrade it.

The report is being released in two parts. The first part, Water Infrastructure in New Jersey’s CSO Cities: Elevating the Importance of Upgrading New Jersey’s Urban Water Systems, is an analysis of the extent of the problems in cities with the most obsolete form of wastewater infrastructure, combined sewer systems. The analysis was prepared by a team led by Daniel Van Abs Ph.D., associate research professor in Rutgers’ School of Environmental & Biological Sciences and current chairman of the New Jersey Clean Water Council. The second part of the report, Ripple Effectssummarizes the major findings in the Van Abs report and includes case studies from four New Jersey cities with combined sewer systems. Read the rest of this entry »

Highlands Development Regulations Not Responsible for Exurban Slowdown

April 24th, 2014 by Tim Evans

A rendering showing Brookwood Green at Byram Village Center in Byram Township.

The planned Brookwood Green at Byram Village Center. Byram’s Village Center plan will add 134 residential units in its planning area, which comprises only 1.6 percent of its total land area.

Is the recent slowdown – and in some cases, outright reversal – of population growth in New Jersey’s northwestern exurbs primarily attributable to restrictions on development imposed by the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act of 2004, as sometimes claimed by business and real estate interests and political figures? Or is there a larger phenomenon at work?

As our recent analysis showed, the population growth dynamic in New Jersey (and indeed nationally) since the recession in 2008 has been one of new growth happening in urban areas and older suburbs – places that hit their peak populations many decades ago but are now experiencing a second wind. Meanwhile, the outer-suburban counties that topped population growth lists in the 1990s and the early part of the 2000s fell to the middle of the pack, or even to the bottom. Read the rest of this entry »

Forum Plenary: A Tale of Three Cities

April 17th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

One of the major redevelopment challenges that New Jersey faces is that of reviving its older cities: How can sufficient human and financial capital be organized around a revitalization effort that can often take decades? The morning plenary session at the 2014 Redevelopment Forum offered lessons from three cities that are meeting that challenge – Providence, Cincinnati and Detroit. All three have faced barriers similar to some of those faced by New Jersey’s cities – most notably how to bring private investment to a downtown that has a reputation for being unattractive or worse –  and while each pursued a very different path to overcoming them, all three approaches offer lessons for New Jersey’s cities. Read the rest of this entry »

State Hazard Mitigation Plan Should Do More To Address Risk, Integrate With Local Planning

April 11th, 2014 by Chris Sturm

Sandy damage -- resiliencyNew Jersey Future today joined with six local and national planning and environmental advocacy organizations in submitting formal comments on the Draft 2014 State of New Jersey Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP). The letter calls on the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) to amend the plan to ensure that it addresses vulnerability and future risk adequately, and to modify the plan to ensure that state agencies, county and local governments develop effective mitigation strategies to guide development and infrastructure investments so that vulnerability to impacts of future storms is reduced.

Signing the comment letter in addition to New Jersey Future were the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association; American Littoral Society; NY/NJ Baykeeper; the National Resources Defense Council; PlanSmart NJ and Clean Ocean Action. Read the rest of this entry »

Forum Feature: Is Demolition Always the Best Option for Vacant Properties?

April 10th, 2014 by Tim Evans

Alan Mallach

Alan Mallach

Demolition is one of several options available to municipal officials in dealing with vacant properties. But how do you know when to demolish a property, as opposed to seeking to acquire it, or seeking to find a new owner for it, or forcing the existing owner to bring it up to code? This is the question addressed by a panel of experts in a session at New Jersey Future’s Redevelopment Forum. Housing scholar Alan Mallach (presentation) gave an overview of the issues that are created or exacerbated by vacant properties; Camden housing advocate Pilar Hogan Closkey (presentation) talked about the strategies her organization, St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society, has used to shore up struggling neighborhoods in that city; and Jennifer Kates (presentation), legislative aide to Philadelphia City Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez, spoke about Philadelphia’s decision to create a land bank to enable better coordination among city agencies in dealing with vacant properties. Read the rest of this entry »

Timing of Public Comment Period on State Hazard Plan Raises Questions

April 4th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff


Cross-posted from NJ Spotlight.

Mantoloking SandyAfter coming under fire for a lack of transparency in how he’s handled the Sandy recovery, Gov. Chris Christie has gone back to the town-hall circuit in recent weeks, and members of his cabinet have been making more public appearances.

The administration has vowed to allow greater public input into its future plans. But that didn’t stop them from quietly submitting a report on hazard mitigation to the federal government last month, ahead of a publicized comment period for the same plan.

The move has angered planning advocates and environmentalists, who had hoped that their expertise and feedback from the public at large would have been given greater consideration before decisions were made.

Read the full article on NJ Spotlight.

New County Population Estimates: Older Places Continue Their Revival

April 4th, 2014 by Tim Evans


Exurban counties continue to lose population.


Source: Rowan University GeoLab

Source: Rowan University GeoLab

On March 27, the Census Bureau released 2013 county population estimates. There are some interesting highlights among the New Jersey and Pennsylvania numbers: Read the rest of this entry »

Communities Need To Understand, Plan Effectively for Climate Risks

April 3rd, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff

Executive Director Peter Kasabach made his debut April 2 on Al Jazeera America, joining a panel on Ray Suarez’s show Inside Story to talk about the importance of understanding the risks posed by a changing climate, and giving communities the leadership and resources they need to plan accordingly. The full show is a half-hour; the panel discussion begins at 14:00.

Forum Feature: Eyes Wide Open … or Shut

April 3rd, 2014 by David Kutner

New Jersey is paying insufficient attention to the increasing risks of a changing climate, and both good leadership and good information are needed if that is to change.

Mark Mauriello

Mark Mauriello

Speakers at a Redevelopment Forum session on climate risks were clear: We have failed to confront the risks that a changing climate poses for our future. Myths and misperceptions cloud our ability to address New Jersey’s growing vulnerability to increasingly frequent and severe storm and flooding events. Mark Mauriello, former commissioner of the New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection, who moderated the session, listed his “favorite” such myths: Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Smart Growth Awards Announced

April 1st, 2014 by Elaine Clisham

Former State Planning Commission Chairman Joe Maraziti
To Receive Leadership Award

SGA.LOGO2014.F1Three different types of housing developments; two plans to revitalize fading downtowns; a plan that transformed an industrial riverfront into a premier urban asset; a project that will serve as an anchor of hope to its surrounding community; and a region-wide plan for smart economic growth are all winners of New Jersey Future’s 2014 Smart Growth Awards. Read the rest of this entry »

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