Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Jersey anti-sprawl program proving ineffective

From WHYY, audio link available

Sprawling commercial developments across New Jersey have raised concern from legislators that towns are losing their green space, and traffic is becoming congested. Nearly five years ago, New Jersey passed a law allowing townships to adopt a program to help them mitigate sprawl, but only one town has taken advantage of it.

Under the program Transfer of Development Rights, developers have to pay property owners for their development rights, which they receive in the form of credits.  Those developers can then apply those credits in specially designated high density areas.

Carlos Rodriguez is New Jersey Director of Regional Plan Association.  He worked at the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth, which administers the program, for ten years.  He says Transfer of Development Rights is a costly and complicated proposition for towns.

Rodriguez: "What would help is if the legislature were to reevaluate the requirements that are contained in the statute in order to make it less onerous."

While New Jersey's program can cost up to $400,000, towns in Pennsylvania can do it for just $35,000, bypassing the state and county.

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