April 14, 2021
Dear Friends,
Earth Day is next week, Thursday, April 22. Please take a few minutes to think about your impact on our planet and how your individual choices can make a difference. Earth Day should also be an urgent call to action for climate change adaptation. We must act now to bolster the resilience of our communities before the crisis becomes even less manageable. 

Adapting to climate change must include how we adapt and manage our water infrastructure. Read more below about the results of a recent Jersey WaterCheck survey, which indicates New Jersey residents’ broad support for investment in resilient water infrastructure. You will also read about how stormwater utilities can help safeguard communities, as well as how towns can move forward by following the recently issued New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection guidance and using New Jersey Future’s Stormwater Utility Resource Center.

Learn more about these and many other issues at this year’s 2021 Planning and Redevelopment Conference taking place virtually on June 10 and 11. The conference will be held over two jam-packed days and include more than 30 unique sessions and scores of expert speakers covering a wide array of timely and important topics. Registration opens next week.

Our statewide age-friendly community work achieved an important milestone last month, as we co-hosted the Age-Friendly Community Summit with our partners. Governor Murphy affirmed the State’s commitment to this work at the Summit and made a key announcement.

Join us on April 29 for the first Lead-Free NJ collaborative membership meeting! Be part of a blended grassroots and state policy effort to make sure children are free from lead and our built environment is lead-safe.

Has the time come to get serious about regionalizing land use decision-making? The first step may be to look at our schools. We explore the issue of school consolidation in our article titled, School District Consolidation Is More Than Just a Cost-Saving Measure, which coincides with current legislation that has been introduced to restart the conversation. We also explore another concept that we must finally confrontthe movement away from single-family zoning.

Peter Kasabach
Executive Director
New Jersey is a home-rule state. Decision-making authority about land use and development rests with municipal governments. In particular, municipalities have the power to enact zoning codes that determine what can be built (and where). Through a practice known as fiscal zoning, municipalities may attempt to implement their zoning power in order to favorably affect their balance sheets. Unfortunately, many municipalities perceive that residential development fails to achieve this goal. While municipalities cannot legally zone out residential development altogether, they have considerable leverage in laying out what types of housing they would like to see developed. This often results in the development of single-family detached homes, especially on large lots.

Will school district consolidation save New Jersey taxpayers money? There is a strong case to be made that it will. But, equally importantly, it might lead to better land-use decisions that provide a broader array of housing options to a more diverse range of people. While New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, it is also one of the most residentially segregated states. Regionalizing school districts may help respond to both of these pressing issues.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recently released guidance on the creation of stormwater utilities, which will help New Jersey communities mitigate flooding and pollution problems. Stormwater utilities are widely considered the most equitable way to address stormwater throughout the nation. To learn more about the guidance—and stormwater utilities, in general—check out the New Jersey Stormwater Utility Resource Center.

When we turn on the tap, we expect the water that flows from it to be clean and safe for use. Over the past few years, increasing attention has been devoted to water issues in New Jersey, including the lead crisis in Newark, emerging contaminants like PFAS, and other contaminants that pose a risk to the quality of drinking water in communities across the state. Thus, it comes as no surprise that New Jerseyans still demonstrate a profound understanding of the need for clean, safe drinking water, as indicated by the results of a survey conducted at the end of 2020.

Coming Up
Come Work with Us
  • Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure Internship—New Jersey Future’s Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure (MGI) program seeks an innovative, analytical, and motivated current college student or recent graduate to develop metrics to measure the use and impact of green infrastructure in New Jersey.
Smart Growth for Everyone
Smart Growth is equitable growth. It is also restorative, as smart growth and redevelopment can help correct systemic racial and economic disparities. As New Jersey Future drives land use decision-making toward more equitable outcomes, we will be sharing useful resources and lessons in this monthly spotlight. Please give us your feedback and share with us any particularly insightful articles, talks, events, or videos that you come across.

Systemic racism is the common denominator affecting many equity and inclusion land-use issues. Environmental justice, which seeks the "same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards" for all people, is inhibited by systemic racism. This article highlights the importance of treating environmental justice work as racial justice work. An example of recognizing this connection is New Jersey's landmark environmental justice cumulative impact law, signed in 2020. The law requires NJDEP to consider cumulative environmental burdens faced by disproportionately impacted communities when deciding on n permits for certain new facilities in these communities.
Featured Resources

New Jersey Future has created the Creating Places To Age: A Community Guide to Implementing Aging-Friendly Land Use Decisions to provide communities with a step-by-step process to make it easier to design for the needs of older residents.

The New Jersey Stormwater Utilities Resource Center is a one-stop shop, housing technical legal and financial information, case studies, and helpful guidance on stormwater solutions, community process, and public engagement.

The Developers Green Infrastructure Guide 2.0 breaks down New Jersey’s Stormwater Rule amendments and helps developers and decision-makers understand more clearly green infrastructure options and advantages, compare alternatives, and evaluate costs and benefits.

This report from the Jersey Water Works Lead in Drinking Water Task Force outlines actions New Jersey can take to virtually eliminate lead in drinking water in 10 years. New Jersey Future is a member of the Jersey Water Works collaborative.
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New Jersey Future in the News
Founded in 1987, New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sensible growth, redevelopment, and infrastructure investments to foster vibrant cities and towns, protect natural lands and waterways, enhance transportation choices, provide access to safe, affordable, and aging-friendly neighborhoods, and fuel a strong economy. New Jersey Future does this through original research, innovative policy development, coalition-building, advocacy, and hands-on strategic assistance. Embracing differences and advancing fairness is central to New Jersey Future’s mission and operations. New Jersey Future is firmly committed to pursuing greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through its programs, internal operations, and external communications.