February 17, 2021
Dear Friends,
Though groundhog Phil may have predicted a long winter this year, our team has been working full steam ahead toward spring. 

We felt the sunshine of municipal resilience planning becoming law this month—something New Jersey Future has advocated tirelessly for in recent years and played a significant role in passing this critical climate change adaptation law. 

As we continue to work toward helping towns in New Jersey become more resilient, our work to help towns become more aging-friendly is being used as a guide more and more outside of our state. We invite you to read about milestones recently achieved by a number of towns New Jersey Future is working with to implement aging-friendly land use goals and see why this work is being used as a national model. These towns are all facing a growing national trend, which we highlight in the article, Older Homeowners in Car-Dependent Suburbs Face a Reckoning.

During Black History Month New Jersey Future recognizes the contributions of Black planning activists like Ethel Lawrence and Samuel J. Cullers, whose work in housing and community development have had lasting impact. Learn more about their significant achievements and impacts in the field below, and take some time to search for more of this relatively hidden history. 

We are preparing for the launch next month of Jersey Watercheck, an initiative of Jersey Water Works that brings together information on water and wastewater systems from multiple sources in one easy to use website. Learn more about how this groundbreaking online resource can connect you to New Jersey water systems and help you understand your water’s story by attending the Jersey WaterCheck webinar on March 18

All this and much more in our February newsletter below, including two new job openings. Our work to make New Jersey communities healthy, strong, and resilient for everyone continues to expand. Please join us. Sunnier days are ahead.

Peter Kasabach
Executive Director
New Jersey Future & the American Planning Association-NJ Present the 2021 Planning and Redevelopment Conference
New Jersey Future is proud to partner with the American Planning Association-NJ to present a two-day virtual conference on June 10-11, featuring a multitude of timely session offerings as we restart, recover, and reimagine land use in a rapidly changing and post-pandemic environment. The 2021 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference will feature over 30 sessions, a virtual exhibit area, and ways to connect with fellow attendees as it brings together bold ideas, innovative solutions, proven concepts, and best practices for creating better, more inclusive, and equitable places where people live, work, and play. Join us in this important work by submitting a session proposal after reviewing the guidelines by February 26. For sponsorship information, contact Michele Glassburg at mglassburg@njfuture.org.
Stormy days ahead call for strong municipal stormwater ordinances. Climate change is bringing increased rainfall and flooding to New Jersey which, if ignored, will damage property, threaten public health, and pollute waterways. Municipal governments’ responses to this challenge will define the quality of life in their towns for generations. Fortunately, municipalities have a strong device to promote responsible and resilient development: stormwater ordinances. To help municipalities make choices about how to adopt a stronger stormwater ordinance, New Jersey Future developed a new tool, the Enhanced Model Stormwater Ordinance for Municipalities.

Recently-released property tax data from the Department of Community Affairs have reminded us once again that New Jerseyans pay a lot in property taxes. Indeed, New Jersey residents pay the highest property tax bills in the country. But, most media coverage tends to misdiagnose where property taxes inflict the most pain, focusing on the absolute amount of the bill. The picture changes with a different perspective on what it means to pay “a lot” for property taxes. Specifically, where are property tax rates the highest?

A recently-released study describing the mismatch between retiring Baby Boomers seeking to sell their mostly single-family detached homes on large lots and younger homebuyers who are mostly looking for other housing options prompted us to consider how this is playing out in New Jersey. As more Baby Boomers look to sell their single-family detached homes in New Jersey, will they find a market among younger homebuyers?

New Jersey Future joined 56 Jersey Water Works members calling for federal investment in our water infrastructure in a letter sent to New Jersey’s congressional delegation. New Jersey’s communities continue to confront issues including aging infrastructure, lead in drinking water, combined sewer overflows, and polluted waterways. With the added burden of the COVID-19 economy, the funds needed for these infrastructure investments exceeds the resources available to local and state governments, making a federal infrastructure investment essential.

Despite the challenges of 2020, several towns followed through on their commitments toward creating great places to age. They recognize that addressing the health needs of older residents includes making sure the built environment supports the ability of older residents to choose safe, suitable housing options and to easily get around town, whether for accessing daily needs and services or for getting exercise or averting isolation. New Jersey Future has worked with a number of towns to achieve important milestones on the journey to become aging-friendly.

We previously described the state of broadband access in New Jersey and stated that “for [our] recovery from the pandemic to be successful, everyone should have the ability to access the internet at reasonable speeds with affordable prices regardless of their geography or income.” We noted that inequitable broadband access, which contributes to a variety of inequitable outcomes, is an infrastructure issue that must be addressed to achieve New Jersey Future’s mission of strong, healthy, resilient communities for everyone. Now, as we move closer to a full recovery with the rollout of vaccines, we must not lose focus on the issues surrounding broadband access that can hinder our progress towards a “new normal.”

The pandemic has highlighted just how essential access to clean water really is. Despite the challenges of 2020, Jersey Water Works members continued to lead the way in advancing New Jersey water infrastructure goals. These advances were highlighted during the Jersey Water Works sixth annual conference, held virtually December 9-11. The conference included 355 attendees and 10 unique sessions facilitated by national and local experts on topics including water funding, CSOs, transparency and data, water workforce, water equity and resilience, and more.

Legislative Updates
  • New Jersey Future submitted comments to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on the final reports for the combined sewer overflow Long Term Control Plans.
  • We celebrated the enactment of S2607, which requires municipalities to include climate-related vulnerability hazard assessments in their master plan updates.
  • Missy Rebovich delivered testimony prepared by Gary Brune at the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on February 9 in support of S829, which would require a property condition disclosure statement to indicate presence of lead plumbing in residential property.
  • New Jersey Future submitted comments to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on the NJ PACT pre-proposal.
  • We are watching bill A1571 and its companion bill in the Senate that takes the dramatic step of linking “prevailing wage” requirements to local projects receiving property tax abatements or local payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT), potentially having a detrimental effect on affordable housing creation, downtown redevelopment, urban revitalization, and advancing local and minority contracting and hiring objectives.
  • We issued a press statement on Governor Murphy’s announcement of the creation of the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy.
Coming Up
Water and wastewater infrastructure are essential to the health and wellbeing of our communities. Jersey WaterCheck, an initiative of Jersey Water Works, brings together information on water and wastewater systems from multiple sources in one easy to use website. In this webinar, speakers will highlight how this online resource can connect you to New Jersey water systems and help you understand your water’s story. Join us March 18 at 11am to learn how Jersey WaterCheck can help communities become better informed about their water and wastewater systems by using data that can help transform New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure. Register here.
Come Work with Us
  • Communications Specialist—New Jersey Future seeks an experienced communications professional who is a proficient, organized, and inspired writer and editor to support the organization’s expanding communications and marketing activities.
  • Development Associate—New Jersey Future seeks a skilled, organized, and motivated individual to provide support for activities in development (fundraising/marketing), administration, and communications.
Smart Growth for Everyone
Smart Growth is equitable growth. It is also restorative; meaning smart growth and redevelopment can help break the cycle and correct historic and systemic racial and economic segregation and disparities. As New Jersey Future drives land use decision-making toward more equitable outcomes, we will be sharing resources and lessons in this monthly spotlight that we have found useful. Please give us your feedback and share with us any particularly good articles, talks, events, or videos that you come across.

February is Black History Month, and New Jersey Future is taking this time to learn more about the contributions of Black planning activists that made the places we love what they are today. We invite you to join us by perusing the following stories and resources and thinking about the ways that we can all work to amplify important Black stories and voices in American history.

  • Ethel Lawrence (March 16, 1926 – July 19, 1994) was a civil rights activist who has been called the Rosa Parks of the affordable housing movement when she petitioned the Mount Laurel zoning board to allow the development of 36 affordable garden apartments, setting off a decades-long court battle—for which she served as the lead plaintiff—over how and where affordable housing is developed. The Mount Laurel decisions led to the New Jersey Fair Housing Act, the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and the Mount Laurel doctrine.
  • Samuel J. Cullers (June 16, 1918 – September 28, 2005) was the first Black professionally-trained urban planner in the United States, earning a graduate degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to his career as a planner, Cullers was also an activist dedicated to ending discrimination against Black people and furthering inclusion in the planning profession and in development decisions. 

  • Dorothy Mae Richardson (May 3, 1922 – April 28, 1991) was a community activist who fought for quality affordable housing options in her Pittsburgh community. Richardson founded Citizens Against Slum Housing, a resident and all women-led initiative, to hold landlords responsible for improving properties and government officials accountable for the impacts of redlining. Her work served as the foundation for the congressionally-chartered community development corporation NeighborWorks America, and a new model for community development.
Featured Resources

New Jersey Future has created the Creating Places To Age: A Community Guide to Implementing Aging-Friendly Land Use Decisions to provide communities with a step-by-step process to make it easier to design for the needs of older residents.

The New Jersey Stormwater Utilities Resource Center is a one-stop shop, housing technical legal and financial information, case studies, and helpful guidance on stormwater solutions, community process, and public engagement.

The Developers Green Infrastructure Guide 2.0 breaks down New Jersey’s Stormwater Rule amendments and helps developers and decision-makers understand more clearly green infrastructure options and advantages, compare alternatives, and evaluate costs and benefits.

This report from the Jersey Water Works Lead in Drinking Water Task Force outlines actions New Jersey can take to virtually eliminate lead in drinking water in 10 years. New Jersey Future is a member of the Jersey Water Works collaborative.
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New Jersey Future in the News
Founded in 1987, New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sensible growth, redevelopment, and infrastructure investments to foster vibrant cities and towns, protect natural lands and waterways, enhance transportation choices, provide access to safe, affordable, and aging-friendly neighborhoods, and fuel a strong economy. New Jersey Future does this through original research, innovative policy development, coalition-building, advocacy, and hands-on strategic assistance. Embracing differences and advancing fairness is central to New Jersey Future’s mission and operations. New Jersey Future is firmly committed to pursuing greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through its programs, internal operations, and external communications.