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New Jersey Future Statement on Signing of A3969/S2647, the ‘Meadowlands Bill’

For Immediate Release: Feb. 5, 2015News-release-graphic100px

 Contact: Peter Kasabach  (pkasabachatnjfuturedotorg)  , Executive Director, 609-393-0008 ext. 104

New Jersey Future is extremely disappointed that the governor has chosen to sign A3969/S2647, and equally disappointed that the Legislature would pass such an inferior bill. Besides it being sloppily crafted, vague and even contradictory in several places, we fear it will have significant negative consequences, including:

  • Elimination of one of the most successful examples of regional planning and cooperation in the country. The Meadowlands Commission has been an excellent regional steward, carefully balancing the need for growth and development with the need for conservation and preservation of the environmentally unique and fragile Meadowlands. Now there is no entity responsible for that protection, and the regional tax-sharing arrangement that underlay the commission’s work risks being replaced by public subsidies. For a state that is so concerned about high property taxes, this is exactly the wrong policy direction.
  • Opening the door to confusing layers of red tape in zoning and development decisions, while not ensuring that development proposals be consistent with the Meadowlands master plan. In fact, the legislation’s wording makes it extremely unclear as to who would have review authority, which creates great uncertainty for those interested in investing and developing in the Meadowlands.
  • Putting state taxpayers on the hook for subsidizing towns in the Meadowlands. A new hotel tax will generate revenue that in theory will be shared with some of the towns, but if enough money is not generated by the tax, then the state government is required to make up the difference.
  • Jeopardizing Liberty State Park. The new entity created by the legislation is given authority for planning, implementation and management of projects in the park, and will perhaps even control project approval – again, the legislation is unclear – thus removing control of a state park from the state Dept. of Environmental Protection, which has had, and should rightly have, jurisdiction.

In our detailed comments we and our co-signatories urged the governor to veto this irresponsible legislation, and we indicated we would welcome the opportunity to help develop replacement legislation that would update the regional planning and tax-sharing arrangements among the Meadowlands municipalities while continuing to preserve and protect critical environmental assets and advance smart economic development. Our legislative and executive branches should not be so cavalier when destroying a successful, four-decade-old model of good government, economic development and environmental improvement.

© New Jersey Future, 16 W. Lafayette St. • Trenton, NJ 08608 • Phone: 609-393-0008 • Fax: 609-360-8478