Working for Smart Growth:
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DOT Offers Help in Applying for Federal Transportation Grants

May 31st, 2018 by New Jersey Future staff

Safe Routes to School, Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Funds Available

The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Local Aid and Economic Development office is offering 45-minute sessions with representatives of local agencies to help with the federal grant application process. These one-on-one meetings will take place with NJDOT district staff and Metropolitan Planning Organization representatives, with the goal of strengthening Safe Routes to School and Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside grant applications.

Safe Routes to School grants are available for infrastructure projects that encourage and enable students in grades K thru 8 to walk and bike safely to school. Additional information about Safe Routes to School funding, including grant handbooks, screen shots, FAQs and estimates of improvement costs, is available from the the DOT’s website. Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside grants are community-based, non-traditional projects (both land and water) which expand transportation choice, strengthen the economy, improve the quality of life and protect the environment.  Additional information and resources regarding these grants are also available on the DOT’s website.

One-on-one meetings will be held from June 11 to 29. Applicants interested in scheduling a meeting should contact the representative from their local DOT district office. These meetings are not mandatory, but they are strongly encouraged to help develop and submit a strong application.

The March Toward Walkable Urbanism Continues

May 25th, 2018 by Tim Evans

State population continues to grow, but slowly

An initial analysis of the Census municipal population estimates released recently confirms that the trend back to walkable urbanism is continuing. An analysis of municipal population changes from 2016 to 2017 against New Jersey Future’s three “smart-growth metrics” — net activity density, presence of a mixed-use “center,” and local street network density — show that as a group, the 124 municipalities that score well on all three metrics grew faster than did the state overall, growing by 0.5 percent compared to 0.3 percent for the state.

These municipalities have accounted for 61.5 percent of statewide population growth from 2008 to 2017, after having accounted for only 6.1 percent of growth from 2000 to 2008. In contrast, municipalities not scoring well on any of the metrics saw their share of growth decline from 38.8 percent for the 2000-2008 period to just 11.9 percent for 2008-2017.

The renewed interest in these places is being fueled by the Millennial generation, who, based on New Jersey Future’s demographic analysis last year, evidenced a pronounced preference for compact, walkable places. As Millennials have entered young adulthood and moved out on their own, they have gravitated toward the state’s cities, smaller downtowns, and older, walkable suburbs.

The preference for access to rail transit has also strengthened in recent decades. The 138 municipalities hosting rail transit stations made up 60.8 percent of total statewide population growth between 2008 and 2017, compared to only 14.9 percent between 2000 and 2008. By contrast, municipalities without rail transit service grew by just 2.3 percent from 2008 to 2017, and by 5.4 percent from 2000 to 2008. (This growth around transit underscores the need for New Jersey to make significant investments in transit-oriented development. A bill, A3654/S2333, that would require NJ Transit to establish an office of transit-oriented development, is a good first step.)

Much of this growth has been happening as redevelopment in already-built places. The 270 municipalities that were at least 90 percent built-out as of 2007 (meaning they had developed at least 90 percent of their total supply of developable land) accounted for 70.1 percent of statewide population growth from 2008 to 2017, compared to a mere 3.6 percent from 2000 to 2008. Redevelopment has become the new normal.

Many of the fastest-growing municipalities so far this decade (2010 to 2017) are places that actually lost population in at least one decade between 1970 and 2010, a period when suburban sprawl and urban disinvestment were at their peak, so the recent turnaround is a remarkable reversal of the broader post-WWII pattern of suburbanization. These revitalizing municipalities include (in descending order of population): Jersey City, Union City, Bayonne, Hoboken, West New York, Bloomfield, Kearny, Fort Lee, Garfield, Princeton, Rahway, Englewood, Cliffside Park, Cranford, Carteret, Lyndhurst, Elmwood Park, Harrison, South Orange, Clark, Weehawken, Fairview, Metuchen, New Providence, Woodland Park, Edgewater, East Rutherford, Wood-Ridge, Kenilworth, Raritan, Fanwood, Allendale, Northvale, and Englishtown. The challenge for these places is how to accommodate the new residents who are seeking the live-work-play environments they offer.

Green Infrastructure Draws Attention at Atlantic Builders Convention

May 16th, 2018 by Louise Wilson

The New Jersey Future/NJBA Green Neighborhood at the Atlantic Builders Convention

The partnership between New Jersey Future and the New Jersey Builders Association – the Developers’ Green Infrastructure Task Force – is nowhere more visible than at the annual Atlantic Builders Convention (ABC) in Atlantic City. This year’s ABC, April 10-12, provided ample evidence that the task force is having an impact. Its members have become enthusiastic, articulate ambassadors for green infrastructure, and more and more developers are actively interested in the broad benefits of designing their projects with GI; they see opportunity rather than risk.

With expanded, highly visible exhibit space; beefed-up educational materials and graphic displays; expert green infrastructure designers on hand providing information and guidance to a steady stream of visitors; “speed consulting” sessions with developers, and a well-attended workshop, New Jersey Future’s Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure program delivered a lot of information to convention-goers: developers, engineers, contractors, architects and landscape architects. Read the rest of this entry »

One Water Awards Nominations Open, Partnership Expands

May 3rd, 2018 by Brian Caycho

Nominations are open for the second annual New Jersey One Water Awards program, which recognizes integration in water projects and programs. Two additional organizations have become One Water sponsors this year. Together the sponsors represent over 9,000 members each of whom work to advance aspects of integrated water management. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Green Infrastructure Options for Your Project? These Tools Can Help.

May 1st, 2018 by New Jersey Future staff

This article was written by Elise Eggert-Crowe from Meliora Design, and is derived from a longer report commissioned by New Jersey Future and prepared by Meliora Design.

Many tools exist that can help both the technical and non-technical communities understand how green infrastructure practices fit into a development project. While these may not act as a substitute for full design, they can be powerful tools in the site planning process and capture many of the essential components of a site-level design that is required to implement stormwater management.

The following four tools demonstrate green infrastructure options for a development site, which can be especially useful in the planning stage of a project. Many of the tools have overlapping features, which are summarized in Table 1. While all tools provide an overview of the impact of development on stormwater infrastructure, each site is likely to present a unique list of challenges that requires in-depth analysis and expertise.

For those looking for a way to demonstrate green infrastructure options for a development site, consider the benefits of the following tools:

  1. National Green Values Calculator
    This tool was developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds. It aligns with methodology used for many regulatory requirements and provides a quick way to compare pre-development and post-development conditions using both conventional and various green infrastructure improvements. Additionally, the tool displays construction costs, maintenance costs, and additional environmental benefits.  The National Green Values Calculator appears to be the most useful planning tool for developers, especially in the early project planning stages when decisions are made regarding green versus gray infrastructure.
  2. EPA National Stormwater Calculator
    The purpose of this tool, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is to inform the user about how a development project meets a stormwater retention target based on location-specific inputs. The tool is free to use and offers a range of low-impact development practices that the user can model by modifying basic design properties. The tool also offers construction and maintenance cost estimates, which can be useful in informing development design. The tool may be useful for early‐stage planning applications or conceptual‐level site development but is not likely to provide the technical specificity or flexibility that developers would need to implement green infrastructure.
  3. NYC Green Infrastructure Co-Benefits Calculator
    The Co-Benefits Calculator is a free tool developed by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and allows the user to quantify and compare costs and co-benefits of common green infrastructure used in New York City. By altering some parameters, it may be useful outside of New York City. A few examples of co-benefits captured by the tool include increased property value, improved quality of life, carbon sequestration, and supported green jobs.
  4. Autocase
    This software was developed with the goal of optimizing lifecycle costs of a project. In focusing on a lifecycle cost analysis that incorporates not only economic but also social and environmental factors, Autocase presents a holistic approach which may help justify the costs of green infrastructure over traditional gray infrastructure. The software allows the user to input site-specific design information and pulls from compiled database information (e.g., Census information, meteorological data, etc.). This software also offers a concise way to communicate the many goals of green infrastructure techniques. The software appears to be helpful mostly to planners or community organizers, since it does not address specific regulatory requirements at the state, county, or municipal level that influence what developers build. Autocase pricing varies depending on license terms; most users pay $5,000 for an annual license.

Common features of green infrastructure tools

Feature / Tool


EPA National Stormwater Calculator NYC Green Infrastructure Co-Benefits Calculator

National Green Values Calculator

Estimates Construction Costs

Estimates Maintenance Costs

Estimates Economic Costs/Benefits (Beyond Green Feature Installation)

Estimates Environmental Costs/Benefits

Estimates Social Costs/Benefits

Allows for User-Input Location

Contains Location-Specific Rainfall/Soil Data

Contains A Variety of GI Practices

Allows for Customization of GI Practices

Aligns with Regulatory Requirements

Free Tool


You can learn more about each of these tools from the author’s presentation during the “Green Stormwater Infrastructure Consulting: Chat with the Experts” seminar at the Atlantic Builders Convention on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.


About the Author
As a water resources designer with Meliora Design, Elise Eggert-Crowe provides site design, stormwater management design, hydrologic modeling, and permitting services. She is passionate about providing sustainable and effective stormwater management solutions that are integrated cohesively into site design. Elise’s professional experiences include land development plan preparation with a civil engineering firm and stormwater permitting with the City of Philadelphia. 

About Meliora Design
An award-winning engineering firm founded in 2007, Meliora Design specializes in civil, structural, and water resources engineering with a focus on sustainable site design and water resources management. Meliora values an integrated design process to reach creative and cost-effective solutions. Meliora Design is a registered Woman’s Business Enterprise (WBE) in New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia.  

New Jersey Future Resources Highlighted at National Planners’ Convention

May 1st, 2018 by David Kutner

Palmer Square in Princeton. The town is the first in New Jersey to receive the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly designation.

Several resources developed for New Jersey Future’s work on Creating Great Places To Age were featured at the recent National Planning Conference, the annual convention of the American Planning Association.

At the De-Siloing Age-Friendly Planning Solutions session, a series of best-practice tools and processes were highlighted, including the work New Jersey Future is doing with several communities to evaluate their aging-friendliness and identify opportunities to become more accommodating to older residents. Presenters highlighted the process New Jersey Future has developed and the documents created to support that process, including a letter of agreement that defines the study work scope, establishes a point of contact, and lists the responsibilities of the municipality and project team; draft language for a municipal resolution in support of undertaking a study; and an introductory meeting packet that includes a proposed composition for the municipality’s project steering committee.

Learn more about New Jersey Future’s work on Creating Great Places To Age in New Jersey.


Water Infrastructure a Major Topic at Budget Hearing for DEP

April 26th, 2018 by Brian Caycho

Water infrastructure dominated New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Catherine McCabe’s testimony during the Assembly Budget Committee’s hearing on the agency’s spending blueprint. Lawmakers quizzed McCabe on the state and complexity of the problem, as well as on plans to address it through asset management and other steps recommended by the Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water, including new state revenues. Read the rest of this entry »

Bayonne Water Guardians, Kearny AWAKE and Harrison TIDE Champion Green Initiatives

April 18th, 2018 by Alma Hidalgo

Harrison High School students and New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors with finished rain barrels.

Cities across New Jersey, particularly those with combined sewer overflows (CSOs), are tackling the critical issue of aging water infrastructure. New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit in 2015 that requires CSO communities to come up with a plan to reduce or eliminate overflows by 2020. New Jersey Future has been working with three CSO communities – Bayonne, Kearny, and Harrison – to implement green infrastructure (GI) practices and environmental education. Green infrastructure practices capture stormwater by mimicking the natural water cycle, preventing it from entering the combined sewer systems and thus reducing overflows.

Each city has created a Municipal Action Team: Harrison TIDE (Transforming Infrastructure and Defending our Environment), Kearny AWAKE (Association of Water, Agriculture And Kearny’s Environment), and Bayonne Water Guardians. Read the rest of this entry »

Opportunity Zones Take Another Step Forward

April 10th, 2018 by Tim Evans

New Jersey’s Opportunity Zones. Click to be taken to the Department of Community Affairs’ interactive map.

On March 10, Gov. Phil Murphy submitted to the U.S. Treasury a list of 169 Census tracts in New Jersey that were being nominated for inclusion in the new Opportunity Zone program. On April 9, the Treasury Department released the full list of approved Census tracts, including all 169 in New Jersey. The full list and an interactive map of these tracts is available on the website of the state Department of Community Affairs.

The Opportunity Zone program was created as part of the recently passed federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and provides a vehicle for private capital investment in “distressed areas.” The program was first proposed in 2015 by the Economic Innovation Group, and was co-sponsored by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Read the rest of this entry »

How Do We Pay for New Jersey’s Aging Stormwater Infrastructure?

April 4th, 2018 by Moriah Kinberg

Tim Filasky

So how do we pay for New Jersey’s aging stormwater infrastructure?

A panel of experts took on this question at New Jersey Future’s 2018 Redevelopment Forum session on the topic. The resounding answer was by allowing for stormwater utilities to be established in New Jersey. According to the 2017 Western Kentucky University Stormwater Utility Survey, there are now 1,639 stormwater utilities nationally, that operate in 40 states. New Jersey does not have a single stormwater utility.

“We have serious stormwater issues, we have those, but we don’t have money.” Senator Bob Smith kicked off the forum session by talking about New Jersey’s stormwater challenges and why they have not been addressed. “Infrastructure doesn’t vote, and does not have a constituency,” he said, but he thinks that the time has come. In January, he introduced Senate Bill 1073, which authorizes municipalities, counties, and certain authorities to establish stormwater utilities. Read the rest of this entry »

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