Lieutenant Governor announces new state Office of Planning Advocacy
State leaders speak out for smart growth and strengthened state land-use planning
Chris Sturm, Senior Director of State Policy, (609) 213-4673
At an event today at Princeton University, leaders from the business community, Christie administration, State Legislature and the grassroots social equity movement voiced their support for state land-use planning as a means to improve New Jersey’s quality of life, strengthen the economy, promote social equity and preserve New Jersey’s remaining open spaces.
For more than 20 years New Jersey Future has championed this cause, advancing state planning and the State Development and Redevelopment Plan as the best way to guide where and how New Jersey adds new residents and businesses in the future. Recent economic conditions and the continued loss of open space combined with a new gubernatorial administration and strong education and advocacy efforts have worked together to put state planning back into the center of public policy debate.
One of the primary recommendations championed by New Jersey Future has been the need to relocate the Office of Smart Growth from the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to a neutral state department. This move would allow the office to facilitate coordination among key state departments. Today, Lt. Gov. Guadagno announced this important change. She said, “What you are going to see over the next couple of days is the Office of Smart Growth coming over from the DCA and being set in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. We are creating the Office of Planning Advocacy.”
In addition to this attention from state government, many forward-thinking business interests recognize that more carefully coordinated land-use decision-making can enhance economic development potential. To that point, Dennis Bone, President of Verizon NJ said, “We need a sustainable state plan that focuses on economic growth and sustainability”.
Similarly, organizations with a social justice focus are beginning to view land-use planning as an important factor in determining whether New Jersey truly offers equal opportunities for all. Nationally reknowned speaker David Rusk spoke on these points, calling on federal and state government to reduce economic and racial segregation through a variety of policies, including land use reform and strengthening state planning.
This renewed interest in state planning puts New Jersey on the forefront of a national shift in policy that emphasizes coordination between transportation, housing and environmental protection with the end goal of building truly sustainable communities. It also comes at a critical time for the state, when studies show that New Jersey continues to lose open space to development at an alarming rate. (New Jersey Future will be co-releasing a report next week that shows this trend.)
As New Jersey Future executive director Peter Kasabach summarized, “We are encouraged by the Lieutenant Governor’s announcement today and now turn our collective attention in the coming months to take state planning off the shelf and put it into action”. New Jersey Future will continue to expand the coalition of supporters behind a re-energized and strengthened State Plan and to work with the Lt. Governor and State Legislature to build a system that integrates state planning into the missions of state agencies and shapes the long-term future of New Jersey.