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State Planning Commission Set To Extend Center Designations; Leaves Coastal Towns at Risk

July 10th, 2015 by

Much of Mystic Island's current center is projected to be inundated by 2050.

Much of Mystic Island’s current center is projected to be inundated by 2050.

UPDATE: On July 15, the State Planning Commission voted unanimously to extend “center” designations for another three years.

Next week the State Planning Commission is scheduled to vote to extend “center” designations for another three years, a move New Jersey Future opposed for coastal and other vulnerable centers.

Extending the designation signals state support for future development at higher intensities than without the designation, and gives towns with such designations access to greater funding from state departments such as the Economic Development Authority and its job creation and development incentives.

However, in centers located in areas vulnerable to increased flooding due to sea level rise — including virtually all coastal centers — this extension invites towns to put new growth in risky locations, with greater potential for damage and higher post-disaster recovery and repair costs.

New Jersey Future had recommended that centers in coastal areas have their designations extended for only one year, with a requirement that during that time the centers’ vulnerability be assessed and their boundaries adjusted accordingly to minimize exposure to natural hazard-related risk. At the end of that year, these revised centers would be submitted for approval.

“It’s understandable that towns want to preserve their center designations, with the attendant potential for more development and ratables, but to do so in coastal areas without any requirement for a robust risk assessment means those towns are just putting more people and property at risk,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “The potential cost to those towns of sensible adjustments to center boundaries and other resiliency measures is a tiny fraction of the losses they now stand to suffer in the next Hurricane Sandy.”

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