Coalition Calls on Gov. Corzine To Ensure State Planning Functions Have Necessary Resources
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2009
Peter Kasabach, Executive Director, (609) 393-0008 ext. 104.
A broad coalition of groups representing planners, developers, housing advocates, academics, the business community and commercial and agricultural interests today called upon the Corzine administration to ensure that the State Planning Commission and the Office of Smart Growth are given the resources they need to continue essential functions through this calendar year and beyond.
In a letter to Gov. John Corzine, the groups noted that five of the 10 seats for public/local government members on the State Planning Commission are vacant, while the Office of Smart Growth is functioning with a skeleton staff and has recently lost its executive director. The groups urged the governor to take three immediate steps:
- Fill vacancies on the State Planning Commission with dedicated, experienced professionals;
- Commit support for the mission of the State Planning Commission and maintain existing staffing levels; and
- To the extent that the admittedly tight state budget allows, give the Office of Smart Growth the resources it needs to move the updated State Development and Redevelopment Plan from introduction through adoption.
“If the commission and the office are allowed to atrophy beyond their already compromised condition, the entire state planning process — and everything it has stood for over the past 22 years — will be at risk,” the letter stated. “In addition, the State will lose an important asset that could ensure that New Jersey will emerge from this economic crisis stronger than before.”
The groups also encouraged the governor to consider several organizational changes that would enable the State Planning Commission to play a leading role in coordinating the land-use changes needed to realize the state’s goals for economic growth, greenhouse gas reduction and open-space preservation. Among the changes recommended are:
- Reconstituting the Office of Smart Growth as the Office of State Planning;
- Placing the office back in a neutral location (in but not of the Treasury Department) as called for by the 1986 State Planning Act; and
- Making the office’s chief administrator a member of the Governor’s cabinet, as well as a non-voting member of the State Planning Commission.
Signing the letter were: Dianne Brake, PlanSmart NJ (former State Planning Commission member); Michael Egenton, NJ State Chamber of Commerce; Ron Emrich, Preservation New Jersey; David Fisher, Matzel & Mumford (former State Planning Commission member); Helen Heinrich, PP, ASLA; Peter Kasabach, New Jersey Future; Alan Mallach, National Housing Institute; Joseph J. Maraziti, Maraziti Falcon & Healey (former State Planning Commission chair); Michael McGuinness, NAIOP New Jersey; Stuart Meck, Bloustein School, Rutgers University; Courtenay Mercer, American Planning Association/NJ Chapter; Richard Nieuwenhuis, New Jersey Farm Bureau; Carlos Rodrigues, Regional Plan Association; Kamal Saleh, County Planners Association; Tim Touhey, New Jersey Builders Association (former State Planning Commission chair); and Ted Zangari, International Council of Shopping Centers.