October 15, 2020
Dear Friends,
How many of us have looked at our town's land use master plan? Do we even know what is in it and why it matters? The master plan is the blueprint for all development and infrastructure improvements and investments in our town. It informs our zoning and guides planning board approvals and denials. And most importantly, it sets the vision for what we want our town to look like and how it should function in the future—including how it will adapt to a changing climate and increased flooding.

As we approach the 8th anniversary later this month, we are reminded of the destruction Superstorm Sandy wrought upon many of our coastal communities. Yet there is no requirement that local master plans consider climate change risk. For example, science can demonstrably show where flooding will increase, especially in tidal areas subject to sea-level rise, but we don’t have to plan our towns with this recognition. We can build buildings and roads where we know flood waters will wash them away in due time.

This can change. A bill in the New Jersey Legislature would amend the Municipal Land Use Law that governs what must be in a municipal land use master plan. The law would require towns to use climate change science to assess local risks and vulnerabilities and then plan accordingly. This requirement places virtually no additional burden on towns, since the incorporation of this information—which would be provided by the state— would take place at the time that a town is already required to update their master plan (every 10 years). Of course, towns can and do update their master plans more regularly based on changing conditions. You can learn more about this legislation in the blog below.

In this month’s newsletter we continue our work on understanding and advancing a geography of equity and inclusion with an analysis on the geography of poverty in New Jersey. We also detail the elements of the multi-million dollar plans municipalities and utilities have developed to reduce sewage overflows that community members should be focusing on. And we are happy to announce an exciting partnership with the New Jersey District of Key Club International to help green the Garden State.

Toward equity and inclusion,

Peter Kasabach
Executive Director
Climate-related hazards will only become more frequent and more damaging over time, so preparations and planning must start now. Currently, New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law does not account for climate change, but a bill would require the land use plan element of municipal master plans assess likely impacts associated with climate change-related risks and devise strategies to address them.
Despite New Jersey’s urban resurgence in the years since the Great Recession, and despite concerns about gentrification expressed in popular media, high-poverty neighborhoods have not disappeared. Inspired by a study earlier this year by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) that documented how concentrated poverty has continued to spread in the United States, New Jersey Future has performed a similar analysis of poverty in New Jersey over the last two decades.
New Jersey Future is excited to announce a new partnership with the New Jersey District of Key Club International and the District Project Steering Committee for the group’s service year project “Keeping the Garden State Green.” 
New Jersey’s 21 communities with combined sewer systems have submitted their combined sewer overflow Long Term Control Plans, developed to reduce sewage overflows, to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) on October 1. These plans will be publicly available for download on the NJDEP CSO website. Public comments will be accepted by the NJDEP on these plans through January 31. 
We are not going to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals through electric vehicles alone; we need to find ways to allow people to drive less. A new report from Transportation for America, Driving Down Emissions: Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change, makes clear that the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere still depends on how much we drive, which in turn depends on where and how we build things.
The sixth annual Jersey Water Works Conference will be held virtually Dec. 9 to Dec. 11. There is no cost to attend this event but pre-registration is required. New Jersey Future is proud to be a member of the Jersey Water Works collaborative.
Legislative Updates
  • On October 8, bill A2785, which would require the land use plan element of a municipal master plan to include a climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment, passed out of the Assembly Environment and Energy Committee. New Jersey Future and a number of partners supported this bill.
  • New Jersey Future released a statement in support of Governor Murphy signing a historic environmental justice bill that will protect overburdened communities.
Coming Up
  • NJ Spotlight News is hosting a virtual roundtable, Upgrading New Jersey’s Infrastructure: Challenges, Costs, & Progress, on October 19 from 4 to 5:15 pm.
  • New Jersey Future is co-hosting a virtual roundtable, Representation Matters: Black and Brown Voices in New Jersey's Environmental Community, on November 9 from 2 to 3:30 pm. Register by emailing debbie@twentytwentypublicaffairs.com. 
  • New Jersey Future Managing Director of Policy and Water Chris Sturm will be speaking at the New Jersey Smart Cities Working Group at Princeton University on November 5 from 2 to 3:30 pm
  • New Jersey Future Director of Stormwater Kandyce Perry will be speaking at the Effective Management of Municipal Water Resources session at the New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference on November 16 from 3:15 to 4:30 pm.
Come Work With Us
New Jersey Future is hiring. Come work with us!

  • Lead-Free New Jersey Manager. New Jersey Future is looking for a skilled, organized, motivated individual to launch and manage the day-to-day operations of Lead-Free New Jersey, a new collaborative forming to ensure lead-free children through changes to state and local policies. The successful candidate must be committed to environmental and social justice, be skilled in policy advocacy, and understand community organizing. Full description.
Featured Resources

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.
Social Media Highlight
New Jersey Future in the News
Visit us and subscribe to our YouTube channel, where you can find videos about our Smart Growth Award winners, some of our media appearances, and various aspects of our work. Visit our channel.
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. To effectively advance its mission, New Jersey Future is firmly committed to pursue a culture of greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through its programs, internal operations and external communications.