state study may change pinelands growth area development




Date: 031112

By Thomas Barlas, Staff Writer, (609) 272-7201
Press of Atlantic City, November 11, 2003

The state Pinelands Commission is beginning a wide-ranging study that
could lead to development changes in its designated growth areas,
including Egg Harbor, Hamilton and Galloway townships in Atlantic

A commission-appointed housing task force will use population
projections to determine population growth in the Pinelands area.

That information will be combined with other development-related data
as the base for several scenarios for allocating future population and
housing growth to areas within and outside the Pinelands.

While it's too soon to predict the outcome, the result could be
changes in how development is apportioned to the growth areas,
commission spokesman Francis Rapa said.

"This is not being driven by an effort just to reduce or increase the
growth in any particular community," he said. "We want to have the
most up-to-date population projections available so that communities
can take a step back and see if the housing allocations for the
communities are where they should be."

There is no deadline for when the work is to be finished, Rapa said.

Officials in many of the designated growth areas have complained for
some time that the designation is causing rapid development with which
they can't keep pace. The designation has helped create overcrowded
schools, clogged roadways and strained municipal and educational

According to state Department of Labor statistics for 2002, Ocean
County again finished first among the state's counties, issuing 3,523
building permits in 2002. The Pinelands-designated high-growth
community of Jackson Township led the county.

However, the center of new homes in southern New Jersey was Egg
Harbor Township. It finished third of all the municipalities in the
state, with 676 building permits, or about 140 more than in 2001.

Fueled by growth in Egg Harbor, Galloway and Hamilton townships,
Atlantic County finished fourth in the state for building permits in

Galloway Township alone has added 6,000 new residents since 2000,
said Thomas Henshaw, the municipality's manager.

"We've been bombarded for years without any extra (state money)
coming in," he said. "Anything that would benefit us from not having
more residential growth should be looked into immediately."

Pinelands Commission Chairman Jim Florio said the task force would
study how Galloway, Egg Harbor and Hamilton townships - and other
municipalities in designated growth areas - can accommodate future
growth. The task force will consider things such as environmental
concerns, development patterns and "other factors that will influence
growth," he said.

"The task force will look at all of this in the context of the
Pinelands development and land-use standards to identify how to best
allocate housing opportunities to facilitate smart growth."

To do that, the task force will try to coordinate information and
help from a variety of agencies, including:

- The state departments of Community Affairs, Environmental
Protection and Transportation.

- Planning offices from seven counties included in the Pinelands

- Organizations such as the Coalition for Housing and the
Environment, the New Jersey Builders Association, the Pinelands
Preservation Alliance and the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce.

- Municipalities in the Pinelands.

All task force meetings will be public, and it must prepare a final

The Pinelands Commission also plans to use its web site,, to keep residents updated on the
task force's activities.

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