June 29, 2021
Dear Friends,
New Jersey Future would like to extend an enormous thank you to the hundreds of attendees, the speakers, and the sponsors of the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference, including the event’s Title Sponsor, PSEG. As a follow-up to the conference, which was co-hosted by New Jersey Future and APA New Jersey, we are excited to release this special edition newsletter. In addition to highlighting the conference’s four outstanding plenary sessions, we have reviewed and summarized 11 additional sessions, all of which provided our audience with the insight and inspiration necessary to make an impact in communities across the state. The conference embraced these unique times and enabled us all to enjoy valuable opportunities to learn, network, and broaden our perspectives.

The conference provided us with critical takeaways regarding the current state—and future—of New Jersey. First, many of the speakers emphasized the importance of incorporating climate change adaptation into planning and redevelopment decision-making, as well as the crucial government and private sector partnerships that will help accelerate these efforts. Next, given the potential influx of federal and state money to support the state’s infrastructure, we must be ready to invest these funds as effectively—and boldly—as possible.

Finally, the sessions demonstrated that we must not only study and understand racial and economic injustices, but that we must urgently and directly respond to them. If we fail to facilitate participation and representation among people of color and low-income communities, our planning and redevelopment solutions will lack legitimacy, and the impact of our work will ultimately be limited. We need to own and center the issues of racial and economic justice in the land-use world and address these issues head-on in both our policies and practices.

As you continue to reflect on the conference, we hope that you join us as we prepare to expand our efforts, employ new strategies, and seek innovative solutions.

Peter Kasabach
Executive Director
The session recordings are now available until August 25, 2021.
Miss registering for the conference? A special discounted registration fee is now available to access the recordings. Click here to register

If you attended the conference on June 10-11, your log in credentials will give you access to the recordings. Log in here.
The science is clear: climate change is here, and its threats are only going to grow more pronounced. But, carefully coordinated efforts can simultaneously protect New Jerseyans from these threats and spur economic activity, making our state that much stronger. That was the message from four senior-level officials from Governor Murphy’s administration at the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference, hosted by New Jersey Future and the NJ Chapter of the American Planning Association.
Spatial segregation persists across the United States and continues to result in economic, educational, and health disparities. Nonetheless, according to several planning professionals and activists at the Geography of Equity and Inclusion: The Big Picture plenary session, equitable approaches, processes, and strategies can help mitigate spatial segregation in New Jersey.
In the plenary session entitled Municipal Approach to Racial and Economic Inclusion held at the 2021 NJ Planning & Redevelopment Conference and co-hosted by New Jersey Future and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, elected officials explored what can be done to foster more racial and economic inclusion in planning and redevelopment.
The COVID-19 pandemic devastated New Jersey in terms of both human life and the economy, but as the state opens back up, there are reasons to be optimistic for New Jersey’s future. There are also demographic and real estate trends that we must proactively counter and remain mindful of as our economy bounces back. Jeffrey Otteau, Managing Partner and Chief Economist at Otteau Group, presented facts and figures to show where we’ve been, as well as projections to show where we’re headed, during The Future of New Jersey: An Economic Forecast keynote session at the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference.
Earlier this year the legislature passed and the governor signed into law an amendment to the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) requiring a climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment. What does this change mean for municipal officials? What will they be required to do and when? This was the topic of discussion in a session entitled Incorporating Climate Change: It's the Law at the 2021 NJ Planning & Redevelopment Conference.
Water is essential for life, but the infrastructure that brings it into our homes—or keeps it out of our basements—is only considered when something goes wrong. At the 2021 NJ Planning & Redevelopment Conference session Water, Water Everywhere—Achilles Heel or Asset? panelists discussed why water can no longer be treated as an add-on issue to which communities simply react.
“Web mapping is a supertool for planners,” according to Rowan University Geography Professor John Hasse. The Web Mapping to Support Smart Equitable Cities in Community Planning session at the 2021 NJ Planning & Redevelopment Conference demonstrated just that with several case studies highlighting new web mapping initiatives in New Jersey.
Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are an often overlooked and underutilized solution to the affordable housing shortage we face in New Jersey and across the Northeast. At the 2021 NJ Planning & Redevelopment Conference, a session entitled Two Homes, One Roof: Making NJ More Welcoming with ADUs discussed the importance of ADUs and their potential as a strategy for increasing the state’s housing options.
Given that Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are built into the structure of the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act, which was signed into law in January 2021, it is no longer a question of if they will happen, but when they will happen. This is what Kelvin Boddy, Director of Healthy Homes and Communities at the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, explained during the session entitled, Community Benefits Agreements: Understanding the New Requirement and How to Create a Win-Win, at the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference.
Who could oppose being savvy at something important? And stormwater is clearly something to take note of—ask anyone who has suffered flood damage or health impacts from poor water quality. However, most people are not well versed on the subject, which is why prudent planning is so important to protect the public and sustain healthy communities. The Savvy Stormwater Strategies: How Planning at Every Level Can Help NJ Weather the Storm session at the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference explored this issue from a regulatory, research, municipal, and policy standpoint.
While responding to the unique needs of older adults, the cultivation of aging-friendly municipalities can also benefit community members across all age groups. At the Creating Aging-Friendly Communities Through Municipal Actions and Partnerships session at the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference, aging-friendly advocates and local officials expressed the importance of aging-friendly communities and described strategies for making municipalities more inclusive for older adults.
When we discuss the attributes of our favorite communities, chronic flooding or unswimmable lakes and streams do not make the list. However, many municipalities in New Jersey confront those problems and, for at least some of them, the creation of a stormwater utility could be the key to a more sustainable, prosperous future. In the session entitled, Oh, Sweet Relief! Stormwater Utilities as an Equitable Took to Solve Flooding and Pollution, held during the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference, co-hosted by New Jersey Future and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, speakers covered the basics, including typical program design, fee structures, and credits for stormwater mitigation projects.
Downtown economies need to reimagine retail. With empty storefronts plaguing Main Streets across the state and country, the How to Reinvigorate Retail-Anchored Downtowns in a Post-Pandemic World panel at the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference offered insight about the future of downtown retail amid a time of uncertainty. Recognizing that the pandemic rewarded retailers that were “adaptive, resourceful, and capable of reinvention,” the panel described a large-scale placemaking project in the redevelopment of key sites in downtown Westfield and offered a forward-thinking perspective for attracting and retaining retail.
Increasing the housing stock in the most densely populated state in the country may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Panelists shared how they resolve the tension between municipalities’ need to grow and residents’ fear of change at the 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference session, Filling the Missing Middle: Context-Sensitive Design and Development Innovations for Diverse, Sustainable, Walkable Neighborhoods.
State leaders are embracing the concept of transit-oriented development (TOD), which encourages residential and commercial development to locate within walking distance of public transit stations, enabling residents to complete some or all of their trips without a car. The private sector also recognizes the demand for housing in transit-accessible towns. But with transit-adjacent neighborhoods being a limited commodity, how do we make sure the option of living near transit is available to everyone? The Ensuring Equity in Transit-Oriented Development session examined population patterns with respect to race and income around New Jersey’s transit stations.
Founded in 1987, New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sensible and equitable growth, redevelopment, and infrastructure investments to foster healthy, strong, resilient communities; protect natural lands and waterways; increase transportation choices beyond cars; provide access to safe, affordable, and aging-friendly neighborhoods; and fuel a strong economy for everyone. 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.