The following are some highlights of this document. How do we put this plan to work, when some towns consider land to be so valuable, that they continue to subdivide farmland for housing development more than they consider its preservation? How long has this drive towards sustainability been in the works? Is this plan full of good intentions or are the notes on building sustainable communities a red herring to clear the way for further growth & development? It would be interesting to hear your comments.
PROPOSED Final DRAFT
State Strategic Plan:
New Jersey’s State Development & Redevelopment Plan
Page 24: Food Production & Processing New Jersey has over 10,000 farmers that produce products valued at $1 billion per year. As a national leader in the production of many agricultural products, local farmers and aquaculturalists will be at an advantage over out-of-state competition if transportation costs continue to rise. Access to locally grown food will help residents hedge against anticipated rising food costs for fresh and healthy food.
Over half of New Jersey’s unrestricted open space is owned and operated by farmers that wish to continue in the industry if it remains economically viable for future generations.
Food production and processing contribute roughly $2 billion annually to the State’s economy.New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry also has competitive advantages. A prosperous commercial (and recreational) fishing industry also means retaining other industries like shipbuilding, maintenance and repair, and support services. These are all complementary to a prosperous offshore wind industry.Farmland (preserved or otherwise) is a principal factor of production required to perpetuate the agricultural industry. With over half of NJ’s remaining unprotected open space in agricultural use, keeping the agriculture industry viable is a strategy that meets both economic development and environmental protection goals. Farmland and farmers should be treated by land use regulating agencies as an asset, not a nuisance. Purported adverse economic and social impacts of industrial agriculture of the past should be re-examined. Farming has changed and will continue to change in New Jersey. There is evidence that a transition is afoot to more environmentally and economically sustainable farming methods. This transition is bringing fresh, healthy, affordable and safe food to the kitchens of New Jersey’s households. The State must rethink its treatment of the stewards of our land and water based economies: the farmers and the commercial fisherman. Protecting natural resources must be complemented with equal protections for those that work the land and continue our maritime traditions.
Page 30: Garden State Value #9) Protect, Restore and Enhance Agricultural, Recreational and Heritage LandsSupport agriculture and locally-grown food consumption through protection and preservation of farmland. Protect agricultural, historic sites and landscapes. Provide accessible neighborhood parks and recreational systems.2.5 Assist Urban Center Evolve into Components of Healthy Metropolitan Areas
OPA will participate in statewide partnerships (for example, DOT Transit Village Working Group) and advocate for solutions (regulatory/fiscal) to spur ―Transit Oriented Development.‖ OPA will advocate for solutions (regulatory/fiscal) within the framework of physical and economic development strategies for improved access to healthy, safe and reliable food and active and safe communities. This will include the creation and rehabilitation of parks and recreation areas. Research options to create a statewide ―Food Policy Council.Page 32-33: Less widely recognized are the tremendous economic benefits offered by NJ’s preservation programs. Preservation supports NJ’s economic development by attracting and retaining businesses in key sectors. As noted under Goal 1, jobs are flowing to regions with a high quality of life; where people find it desirable to live. The Institute recognized this aspect as well, stating: ―[I]f New Jersey wants to attract and retain people along with industry, part of its attraction is having open spaces, recreational, and agricultural areas within the State.‖ A strong system of public parks and active preservation programs clearly are vital to an amenities-based economic development strategy to attract and retain businesses in New Jersey’s priority industry clusters.
Preserved lands also benefit the State economically by serving as a jobs creator; driving the State’s tourism industry through a diverse and aesthetically pleasing landscape; supporting the State’s real estate market by attracting homebuyers and increasing the values of proximate residential and commercial properties; and creating a variety of jobs that range from appraisers and title searchers who provide due diligence for land acquisitions to engineers and construction workers who help create and rehabilitate parks.
Preservation and park development will also play a key role in implementing the ―Garden State Values‖ through addressing two of the State’s biggest economic drains – rising health care costs and sprawl. By creating new parks, rehabilitating existing parks, and preserving land that provides locally grown fruits and vegetables, New Jersey’s preservation programs directly support healthy lifestyle choices that reduce health care costs. New Jersey’s preservation programs help avoid the high costs of sprawling growth patterns by channeling growth to developed areas, discouraging high-cost infrastructure extension, and supporting urban and first-tier suburban redevelopment initiatives.