A new fight over how to save the Pinelands

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
11,296
1,998
1,093
Pines; Bamber area
This is being HOTLY debated. I have mixed feelings about it. What I would like to see is some organization put together about 5 examples of what could happen on paper, showing the worst case scenario in actual locations we are all familiar with.
 

freerider

Explorer
Jan 3, 2008
271
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18
As I stated in another post many small lots exist.

The following is from the suggested changes in the CMP. Note the last sentence.

........."A final limiting factor may be the relatively small size of properties in this management area. Of the approximately 61,000 existing parcels in the Forest Area, less than one percent are over 80 acres in size. The vast majority (over 86 percent)
are 3.2 acres or less in size. The same percentages hold true for the 45,000 existing parcels in the Rural Development Area. Cluster development on a meaningful scale therefore is difficult or impossible to achieve without significant efforts toward the consolidation of multiple contiguous lots..............
 

46er

Piney
Mar 24, 2004
8,464
1,915
1,093
Coastal NJ
Common sense tells me that mandating smaller lots means more homes and more profits for the developer plus easier to afford homes for buyers resulting in more development, especially when you consider the provision to allow farmers to sell part of their land for clustering. I wonder if this 'plan' has guidelines or limitations on how close one cluster can be to another? I lived in the adirondacks for quite a number of years, the Adirondack Park Agency is an example of one that works for both sides and those in between.
The Pinelands Commission might learn something about land management from them and take a look at their master plan.

http://www.apa.state.ny.us/
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
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“clusters it into smart-growth areas (Leaken)”

Sorry for the post length, but there's lots to say!

I suggest that you look at western Atlantic County to see how proposed clustering will proceed. Redevelopment and Smart Growth are land-planners’ tools of choice. Within a 5-mile stretch of Buena is a series of newly proposed public clustering projects – Richland Village, Comar Industrial Park, a retirement village (80 houses on 16 acres), and another industrial park on farmland just above the Wawa. These projects are strung like pearls on a necklace leading to the Buena Borough MUA. All are publicly funded projects that use State and Federal grant money to prepare ground for a mega-developer’s cherry picking. So what are “Redevelopment” and “Smart Growth?”

DISTILLATION OF REDEVELOPMENT AND SMART GROWTH

1) According to the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, "Our mission is to provide a unique approach to revitalization (a) efforts in New Jersey's cities (b). We develop programs and resources to improve the quality of life by creating value in urban communities (c)."

2) According to the Department of Community Affairs, "What is Smart Growth? Smart Growth is the term used to describe well-planned, well-managed growth that adds new homes and creates new jobs, while preserving open space, farmland, and environmental resources (d)."

(a) How do you revitalize something that was never there in the first place?
(b) This is not city space, but State and Federally protected reserve lands.
(c) These locations are urban wilderness, not urban blight.
(d) As currently planned, these schemes are antithetic to underlined Smart Growth goals.

Covers from the 2007 & 2008 Comar redevelopment plans give an overall before-and-after impression of the kinds of locations that are now being pursued via Smart Growth and redevelopment (attached below). Both documents claim this land has been abandoned for over ten years and is too remote for market utilization. In actuality the parcel is conveniently sandwiched between two main thoroughfares (US 40 and State 557) and is mostly original woodland that scores high on the Pinelands Ecological Assessment. Under the Township's invocation nearly the entire Pinelands National Reserve could be considered abandoned-remote land and developable under such criteria.

I appended the Township's 2007 "Comar Place/Pine Road Redevelopment Study Area" proposal to a poster presented at Tough Choices: Land Use Under a Changing Climate in Berlin last fall (Demitroff & Nelson, 2008, the Tee Gate attachment of earlier post). This venue was a ministerial level German-US Conference on challenges to future land use and sustainable communities. I’m not an expert in land-use so had much interest in the group’s reaction. European (and American) attendees, mostly top-level land-use experts, found the Township's plans disturbing, as do I. The consensus was that forested and farmed land should not be considered appropriate locations for Smart Growth and redevelopment exploitation.

Spung-Man
 

Attachments

relayer

Explorer
Feb 6, 2007
138
37
28
Lake Pine
www.westjerseyhistory.org
I agree with Spung-Man. Indeed, I would say that the whole problem with planning in this state is that it focuses primarily on development. Most planning processes seem to seek to shoehorn in as much and as many of everything. Decisions are regularly made that profit a tiny group of developers and their friends while degrading the environment and impoverishing the cultural landscape. If the pine barrens, if the state, are to retain any open space and any natural and cultural resources, it is imperative that the the current thinking and the current system be turned on their heads. We must plan for preservation and let that be our guide.

relayer
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
243
1,043
Near Mt. Misery
So it is already on the Govenor's desk. What are the chances he will veto the proposal? Does the federal government have any say in this matter. I have always been confused about the extent and power the federal government has in their national reserve.

Jeff
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
912
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Richland, NJ
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Pinelands Smart Growth, an example

This is being HOTLY debated. I have mixed feelings about it. What I would like to see is some organization put together about 5 examples of what could happen on paper, showing the worst case scenario in actual locations we are all familiar with.
TeeGate

My concern is that the Smart Growth and Redevelopment fast-track projects, making it easier to bypass customary checks and balances – especially public debate. Mason (1992, Contested Lands: Conflict and Compromise in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens) noted 17-years ago that the Pinelands Commission’s planning power was decentralizing and shifting power to local entrepreneurial interests. In the case of Richland Village decisions, the mayor and deputy mayor sit on the environmental commission, the mayor and deputy mayor sit on the planning board, the mayor sits on the economic development advisory board, the deputy mayor on the Citizens Advisory Board on Community Development, and both are on the township committee. Under redevelopment, I’m under the impression that the township committee alone chooses a developer who will fulfill their visions of multimillion-dollar ratables. They do not have to accept proposals on bid alone.

Let’s look at one aspect of the township’s largest parcel purchased (public grant money?) for the Richland project, and see where group wisdom takes us. This is information that I submitted to the township at their municipal hearing, to the township environmental commission, and to the Pinelands Commission at their hearing (excepting Richland Wetlands 5). The section in question was cleared c.1882 by J.H. Smith who ran the adjacent steam-powered sawmill, but the land was soon abandoned due to wetness. In the 1960s the site was slated for St. Augustine Preparatory School but the site was quickly switched to higher and drier ground at R.D. Wood’s estate “Red Oaks.” As long as I can remember, the redevelopment parcel has been for sale but remained unsold due to site limitations (i.e., mostly not builable) despite its frontage on US 40 and central location.

This parcel is key to the township’s redevelopment. I’ve seen plans that suggested a retirement village and a sewer plant to be located here. Recently, the land was deed-restricted (unbuildable anyway?) for the controversial off-site dilution ordinance applicable within the Richland Village Redevelopment Area. The Pinelands Commission claimed that this ordinance provides an equivalent or better level of protection than would otherwise be achieved within the Redevelopment, but the Pinelands Preservation Alliance disagrees (see PPA’s Inside the Pinelands, V.15, #3).

ATTACHED FIGURES


Richland 1 – 1931 aerial photomosaic of the redevelopment parcel, Airplane Photo Atlas Sheet #222, NJDEP Bureau of Tidelands.


Richland 2 – from above, with added wetland delineation in red line added by M. Demitroff from various sources including local knowledge.


Richland 3 – soils map of the redevelopment parcel, with added hydric soil delineation in red line and blue line for intermittent stream added by M. Demitroff as shown on Atlantic County Sheet #22, Soil Survey of Atlantic County, New Jersey (Johnson, 1978).


Richland 4 – wetlands delineated in blue from Exhibit B-3, Richland Village Redevelopment Area Aerial Photo, Richland Village: Growing Smart into the 21st Century, January 2006.


Richland 5 – hydric soils map (wet in grey) of the redevelopment parcel according to the US Natural Resources Conservation Service Web Soil Survey (current), Accessed December 22, 2008.

Are wetlands being marginalized or are they dying up? Either way, we have a problem. My point is that Pinelands redevelopment decisions are being made behind closed doors, and absent cultural or environmental surveys. The above is just one of multiple examples of problems related to redevelopment and sewering. So when Leaken invokes “smart growth” as the path forward to Pinelands clustering, Buena Borough and Buena Vista Township provide preliminary “Smart Growth” windows into how clustering of Pinelands Villages and Rural Development zones may proceed.


Spung-Man
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
11,296
1,998
1,093
Pines; Bamber area
In the case of Richland Village decisions, the mayor and deputy mayor sit on the environmental commission, the mayor and deputy mayor sit on the planning board, the mayor sits on the economic development advisory board, the deputy mayor on the Citizens Advisory Board on Community Development, and both are on the township committee. Spung-Man
The chicken guards the worm hole. The fox guards the chicken. The wolf guards the fox, and the lion guards the wolf.

I hate to see wetlands disappear due to ignorance.
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
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This is a two-pronged problem, lowering water-tables and lax rule enforcement. Behind the scenes it’s well accepted that widespread drop in groundwater has already occurred but few say this in public. In defense of delineators, as water-table drops wetlands are getting harder to identify. It’s not uncommon for rule-savvy landowners to mow down wetland indicator plants with the knowledge that they will not come back since the ground is now dry. Who needs to fill wetlands in anymore? Besides, there’s little enforcement of existing rules especially at the local level.

Here’s the loophole, there is no provision in the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) to address the issue of wetlands drying. In 1979, no one thought that 17 trillion gallons of groundwater would not be enough. According to Roman and Good (1983: 48) it only takes as little as a drop of 4 to 8 in groundwater to destroy a Pinelands wetland. Since the CMP sets the regulations and standards that preserve and protect the Pinelands, some Commission staffers are resigned that this phenomenon is a one-way street and land thus dried is buildable. The long-awaited Gibson Study is expected to punt the question of regional groundwater loss to some future investigation. And so it goes, wetlands dry, more land is built upon, more wetlands dry…

Excessive demands on water resources by an urbanizing population in and (especially) outside the Pinelands are contributing to the apparent degradation of shallow groundwater-dependent wetlands. I’m certain that politicians and colleagues will stand up and do what’s right for the Pinelands, before it’s too late. Now is a good time for change. It’s OK to be an environmentalist.
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
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wow lol, i wasn't expecting agreement:D
Why not? As relayer pointed out, it is a tiny group of developers and their friends who benefit from current rules. Do you think corporate greed was limited to banks or Wall Street? I fear that Pinelands redevelopment schemes could be deemed shovel ready in the name of proposed economic stimulus, and the buggers who got us into this financial mess will be handsomely rewarded yet again. Buena Smart Growth -clustering-redevelopment projects are well supported at high levels.

Forgive me for generalizing, but long-term Pinelands inhabitants tend to be skeptical of authority. Our cynicism often manifests into political apathy. We have only ourselves to blame for allowing this to happen. So get out and vote, show up at an environmental commission meeting, join one or more of the many excellent organizations concerned with Pinelands protection. The call to conservation is something that unifies most of us – conservative, liberal, or libertarian, Pinelands inhabitants and guests alike. But I’m merely preaching to the choir, aren’t I?
 

misclaims

Explorer
Oct 10, 2008
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little egg harbor
Spung Man... you've hit the nail on the head! Regardless of anything... we all agree we love the pines. A unified front is more productive than a divided one. All you have to do is look at our government to see that! If we all adopted a cause the involves preservation then perhaps our voices would finally be heard.
 

mudboy dave

Explorer
Oct 15, 2008
949
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atco
opentrailsnj.org
I was saying that years ago, and people gave me the same old speal " you drive a ""monster truck"" you dont want to save the pines" , but i will tell you right now I'm all about saving it. I have enough neighbors as it is I go out there to get away from them. I hate neighbors
 

misclaims

Explorer
Oct 10, 2008
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little egg harbor
I know what you mean... I know there are conservationists out there that may go a bit overboard. I run into even on fishing. There are groups out there that want to close the fisheries and kill recreational fishing. What they fail to understand is most hunters/fisherpeople are interested in conservation because without it, they have no sport. Same with all outdoors enthusiasists. There has to be a common ground where mudders, hikers, conservationists, hikers, photographers can meet for the common good of our interests and for the common good of conservation. Im sure it can be done. I enjoy all aspects of the outdoors and can appreciate all sides of the issue. It would be nice if something could be done to bring all of these interests together.
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
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Richland, NJ
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Agricultural Landscape Research

Yes, calls for conservation are diverse. I come from an agrarian background, and loathe seeing our distinctive rural landscape (open space) paved over. A substantial portion (perhaps a third?) of the Reserve is currently in agricultural production. Ag production primarily occurs outside the core area, which is also the area where development pressure is most acute. We have multiple land-planners working to facilitate commercial development south of the Mullica. Is there even a single farm expert at the Commission?

We can better achieve ecological and economic sustainability through the promotion of local food systems than chasing Smart Growth. Sustainable knowledge-based small-farm agriculture is an enticing way to promote a sense of place, provide local residents livelihoods without the need to chase ratables, reduce New Jersey’s carbon footprint through better crop management, and help protect the Cohansey Aquifer by adopting ecologically sound farm production strategies.