Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

Redevelopment, Environmental Law Pioneer Wins Leadership Award

Smart Growth Award Category: Cary Edwards Leadership Award
Winner: Joe Maraziti Jr. Esq.


Maraziti

Joe Maraziti Jr. Esq.

The Cary Edwards Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have an outstanding commitment to improving the quality of life and promoting smart growth in New Jersey through sustainable land-use policy and practice.

The recipients of this award are dedicated to strengthening communities by encouraging redevelopment and development where infrastructure already exists and by preserving and enhancing agricultural and natural resources.

This year’s winner, Joseph J. Maraziti Jr. Esq., has for more than four decades built a prestigious practice and a sterling reputation in New Jersey environmental and redevelopment law. He has advised numerous public- and private-sector clients on environmental and infrastructure-related issues, and has successfully litigated a variety of matters, some of them precedent-setting, involving redevelopment and environmental laws and regulations. He has also worked tirelessly to guide New Jersey’s growth and development strategically, both in his practice and in his public service.

After Mr. Maraziti graduated from Fordham College and Fordham Law School, he joined his father’s general-practice firm, where tried his first “pollution cases,” as they were known. The first of these cases led to the creation of the Rockaway Valley Regional Sewerage Authority and the cleanup of the Rockaway River. Later litigation focused on claims stemming from the landmark federal Superfund legislation.

In 1998, Governor Whitman appointed Mr. Maraziti to chair the State Planning Commission, in which capacity he led the effort to adopt the State Development and Redevelopment Plan of 2001, a framework to ensure that development and redevelopment in New Jersey enhances the quality of life for all residents. Plan adoption was not easy. Stakeholder groups from all sectors – environmental, development, agricultural – were apprehensive and resistant, and it is in large measure a tribute to Mr. Maraziti’s skills as a negotiator and mediator that the commission was able to adopt a plan that responded to most of their concerns.  The plan’s emphasis on redevelopment was also somewhat prescient: At the time, there was more interest in suburbanization than reinvesting in the state’s older cities and towns, but that trend seems to have reversed itself during the past decade.  He served as chairman of the commission until 2002, and the plan he shepherded into place remains in effect today.

Mr. Maraziti’s experience on the State Planning Commission gave him a unique statewide perspective on what works and what does not when it comes to redeveloping New Jersey’s communities. As a result, he has played a leading role in the evolution and maturing of environmental and redevelopment law in the state, including participating in the legislative process and advising state and Washington policymakers. Many clients now seek his help to redevelop properties that were once shunned – so-called brownfields sites. Mr. Maraziti has built a strong practice providing both public and private clients with the appropriate legal tools to implement redevelopment and rehabilitation projects, helping to realize billions of dollars in investment in New Jersey’s cities and towns.

Among Mr. Maraziti’s many honors are the Morris 2000 Robert M. Schaeberle Leadership Award and the Regional Planning Partnership’s 2002 Van Zandt Williams Jr. Community Involvement Award for Commitment to Redevelopment in New Jersey. He has been listed as one of the best environmental lawyers in New Jersey in Best Lawyers in America; he was selected in 2014 by Superlawyers Magazine® (administered by Law & Politics, Inc.) for his experience in environmental law; and he has been selected by New Jersey Monthly as a super lawyer in environmental law for the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of Super Lawyers of New Jersey. He served as a master in the Justice Stewart G. Pollock Environmental American Inn of Court, and he lectures extensively on environmental and redevelopment topics.

Mr. Maraziti has long been active in professional and civic organizations. He was the founding chairman of the Morris County Bar Association Environmental Law Committee; he is a past chairman of Morris 2000; he has served on the Environment of the 21st Century Task Force of the New Jersey General Assembly; and has served on the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Environmental Litigation. He is chairman of the Association of Environmental Authorities’ recently formed Ethics Committee, and he is an associate of the Environmental Law Institute. He serves on the board of directors of the Regional Plan Association and on the board of trustees of New Jersey Future, of which he has also been chairman.

Today he works at his father’s tiger oak desk in his Short Hills office, surrounded by an array of antique bottles, rocks and minerals, and by photos of his wife Claudette; his daughter Jackie and her fiancé Vince Monteleone; and his daughter Michele and her husband Mike and their son Jake Ryan. Mr. Maraziti continues to maintain a varied caseload that reflects the balancing act of modern environmental law: practicable enforcement and realistic solutions, respecting not only the law but also the state’s long-term ecological health.

 

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