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.

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.

Information gathered from interviews and online resources. Last updated on 3/08/10.

Feifel, K. (2010). New Jersey Climate Change Adaptation Using Community Plan Endorsements [Case study on a project of the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated March 2010)

Project Contact(s)

New Jersey Office of Smart Growth

The Office of Smart Growth (OSG) coordinates planning throughout New Jersey to protect the environment and guide future growth into compact, mixed-use development and redevelopment. The Office implements the goals of the State Development and Redevelopment Plan to achieve comprehensive, long-term planning; and integrates that planning with programmatic and regulatory land-use decisions at all levels of government and the private sector.


Scale of Project
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Land Use Planning
Transportation / Infrastructure
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Habitat extent
Infrastructure damage
Sea level rise
Storms or extreme weather events
Climate Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Reduce local climate or related change
Capacity Building
Create stakeholder engagement processes to develop and implement adaptation strategies
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Create or modify shoreline management measures
Governance and Policy
Sociopolitical Setting
Effort Stage
In progress