New Jersey Climate Change Adaptation Using Community Plan EndorsementsBy:
March 08, 2010
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Project Summary / Overview
The New Jersey Office of Smart Growth helps to implement the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan in which climate change adaptation is incidental to appropriate comprehensive land use planning.
New Jersey is one of the most populous states in the United States. In 1992, the New Jersey State Legislature released the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan (the State Plan) and has since updated it every three years. The State Plan outlines overarching land use policy for New Jersey to which local municipalities must adhere when developing local land use ordinances; the latest iteration of the State Plan includes an additional goal to support sustainable land use practices in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Office of Smart Growth reviews local land use policies and endorses successful plans through a “plan endorsement” process. To satisfy the requirements to get a land use plan endorsed, communities must complete a rigorous stakeholder outreach process. The local leadership must create a committee that includes non-elected community members to oversee the land use ordinance update process. At least three visioning meetings are held with outside facilitators in order to produce a product that incorporates the opinions of community members. The local land use ordinances create growth centers, provide environmental protections, and highlight areas for restoration; the state governs the placement of major infrastructure.
The Office of Smart Growth has been working with communities to craft land use ordinances that include strategies to reduce vulnerabilities to flooding and extreme tidal flux. Specifically they are trying to reduce the amount of impervious surface along the coasts, protect wetlands and wetland buffers, and restore coastal sand dunes. Land is targeted for protection or restoration through low-resolution shape file analysis and with local guidance and suggestions. Although these measures are not explicitly labeled as climate change adaptation, these strategies will enhance the region's resilience.
Project Outcomes and Conclusions
Efforts by the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth to help communities adapt to the future could be enhanced by improvements in rezoning mechanisms and regulations, integration of local, state, and federal concerns in land use planning, and incorporation of climate change education for the public.