| Things to think about
Many of us spend
our vacations traveling to places that have quaint towns or
densely packed cities because we like the character and lifestyle
of such places. Yet we have moved New Jersey in the opposite
direction during the past 50 years.
Many people now say that most parts
of our state, and even our country, have started to look the
same. The trend toward the type of suburbs that are being built
is a major source of this uniformity.
housing choice has improved slightly in recent years, the vast
majority of our new housing continues to be built in suburbs.
This trend contributes to the overall problem of limited options
for homebuyers who wish to purchase high quality housing in
non-suburban areas. Some years, urban places donít even show
up in this "top 10" indicator. This historical trend has changed
our state from one of close-knit towns to one of dispersed sprawling
places without centers. It has multiplied the number of cars
that we drive, caused the paving of large expanses of farmland
and forest, aided in the stagnation and decay of our cities,
increased the pollution we emit and the energy we use, changed
our relationships with our neighbors, and generally restructured
We once lived near the
factories and farms where we worked, as well as the shopping
we needed. Today, we commute long distances through congested
traffic. This requires expanded investments in road construction,
maintenance, cars, and transit. The AAA estimates it costs us
46 cents for every mile we drive. Rutgers University found that
building in and around existing communities would save New Jersey
taxpayers $400 million annually by not having to service sprawl.
Sprawling suburbs put concrete
over large areas of land, destroy habitat for wildlife, and
change water systems. Living in the suburbs increases our reliance
on the automobile, which is a major source of greenhouse gases
and other air pollution. Our choice to live mostly in the suburbs
converts forests, wetlands, and many diverse ecosystems into
fairly uniform housing developments.
developments, when done incorrectly, leave little opportunity
for walking and talking with neighbors and developing the community
so many of us seek.
only analyzes the 10 fastest-growing towns and so is not a full
description of land use and housing trends in New Jersey. It
also does not tell us about such issues as how many people live
in each unit or how many people live in apartments, condominiums
or houses. An analysis that covers all towns in New Jersey is
Sources: Rutgers Transportation Policy Institute, NJ Department
of Community Affairs, and US Bureau of the Census