April 8, 2010
Municipal and Environmental Leaders Call on Governor to Veto
Municipal and environmental leaders, today called on Governor Christie to veto legislation that would undermine local zoning, planning and environmental protections. S-82/A-437 would allow a developer to freeze local zoning by the mere submission of an application. The bill would eliminate the time of decision rule at the local level and apply a time of submission standard. S-82/A-437 was pushed through the Legislature before the budget recess and now sits on the Governor’s desk.
"Environmentalists and municipal leaders agree! This bill prevents the use of the latest data to protect communities, their citizens, and our environment as developers play beat the clock and rush in applications before zoning changes. Towns can't plan ahead perfectly, mistakes are sometimes made, and the data's always evolving. Current law permits needed changes midstream in a fair manner and should remain unchanged. Protecting public health, safety, and even future developers trumps existing developers' profits and this bill should be rejected," stated David Pringle, Campaign Director of the NJ Environmental Federation.
Sandy Batty, Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, added, "Under this bill, filing a development application, even if it was incomplete or inaccurate, would protect the builder from any land use changes. It would hinder municipalities from doing sound planning, such as protecting local environmental features like streams or steep slopes, or requiring energy efficient measures, or progressive steps recommended by master plan updates."
"This bill is dumb growth and a give away to the developers at the expense of the environment and good planning," said Jeff Tittel, Director NJ Sierra Club. “This legislation undermines the rights of citizens and local governments to protect natural resources and to determine their own communities’ future."
"If this bill is signed, we can expect municipalities to be inundated with incomplete applications for land in their communities," said Amy Hansen, Policy Analyst at New Jersey Conservation Foundation. "Since little investment will be required to file a short, incomplete application, why would anyone not do so in order to lock in their projects? Townships won't be able to plan or protect natural resources in any comprehensive manner."
Bill Dressel, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, added, “Not only is this legislation bad land use policy, it could not come at a worse time. Right now, the Legislature and the Administration are advancing reforms to COAH and the Fair Housing Act, the most challenging land use issue faced by municipalities, as well as potential changes to the State Plan and DEP regulations. So while reform and changes are being carefully crafted, developers are hoping to rush through changes at the expense of taxpayers. The Governor has the opportunity to balance the interests of developers and the public’s interest. The public good should prevail.”
The list of organizations opposing S-82 and A-437 includes, but is not limited to, The New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commission, the New Jersey Environmental Federation, the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Planning Officials, and the New Jersey Sierra Club.
Call- in Press Conference to be held Thursday to Discuss Time of Decision Bill
What: Environmentalists will join the League of Municipalities and local leaders in a call-in press conference to discuss concerns with the “Time of Decision” bill passed recently by the New Jersey Legislature.
The bill alters the process exempting developers from changes in municipal ordinances and zoning, severely hindering the ability of municipalities to do sound land use planning. This legislation will undermine the rights of citizens and local governments to protect natural resources and determine the future growth of their communities.
Who : New Jersey Sierra Club, New Jersey League of Municipalities, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), NJ Conservation Foundation, NJ Environmental Federation, local mayors
Date: Thursday, April 8
Time: 1 p.m.
Call in Instructions: Please call 1-866-501-6174 and use passcode 1004000#
Sandy Batty, Association of NJ Environmental Commissions, 973-539-7547
Bill Dressel, League of Municipalities. 609-915-9072.
David Pringle, NJ Environmental Federation, 732-996-4288
Amy Hansen or Wilma Frey, New Jersey Conservation Foundation 908-234-1225
Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100