State Continues Town Center and Smart Growth Designations Three More Years

Jul 29, 2015

New Jersey Future, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting municipalities with planning goals, was against the recent decision by the State Planning Commission to extend the Town Center designations and planning areas adopted by many municipalities an additional three years.

“We were disappointed,” said Chris Sturm, senior director for state planning with New Jersey Future. “We were hoping the commission would use this opportunity to help municipalities rethink their center boundaries now that they know the risks of stormwater flooding since Superstorm Sandy.”

Numerous municipalities had participated in the state planning process, called plan endorsements, which designated town centers. The rationale for giving an additional three years before revising the town centers, as explained in the New Jersey Register, is to save the towns money during the current economic downturn.

In Southern Ocean County, Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor Township continue to receive free help from New Jersey Future for storm and flood risk and resiliency planning since Superstorm Sandy. The two municipalities share a $2.1 million grant to bolster shorelines and dredge certain areas that were affected by the storm. Little Egg Harbor’s Mystic Town Center extends well into an area that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

The State Planning Commission voted on the amended plan on July 15. According to New Jersey Future, the extension invites towns to unwisely put new growth in areas vulnerable to increased flooding due to sea level rise, with the attendant risks and post-disaster costs.

—P.J.

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