Learning from the success of others is one of the surest ways to succeed.
Communities throughout New Jersey are following Smart Growth guidelines to enhance quality of life and create sustainable economic opportunities for their residents—all while encouraging environmental and historic preservation.
Whether your priority is traffic, education, environment, mass transit, housing, open space, sprawl, economic development, or urban revitalization Smart Growth has something for you.
Saving the Farm in Chesterfield Township
Where many saw impending suburban sprawl and rapidly disappearing open space, rural Chesterfield Township saw a rare opportunity. It is creating a brand-new town center that will help preserve the historic village of Crosswicks plus the hamlets of Sykesville and Chesterfield. When done, the township will have managed growth while effectively protecting and supporting farming as a cherished way of life in the region.
Protecting What's Important
Northern Burlington County is one of the most important and agriculture-rich areas of the Garden State's "farm belt." Chesterfield Township lies near the crossroads of I-295, Route 130 and the New Jersey Turnpike. This combination presents a highly desirable target for developers, whose office parks, retail complexes and upscale suburban tracts promise tenant and homeowners "best of both worlds" locations. But Chesterfield Township's Master Plan showed other ideas — namely to "promote the industry of farming while providing...a reasonable level of development, including low- and moderate-income housing" and to "safeguard the heritage of the township." Piloting a unique program — Transfer of Development Credits (TDC's) — township planners allowed landowners to transfer the development potential of their properties into areas of the town slated for growth. The goal? A private-market mechanism to accomplish farmland preservation, to complement the publicly funded farmland preservation program.
Enhancing Quality of Life
Chesterfield's new town center is designed to attract a diverse population of residents and businesses — then keep them there, with pedestrian-oriented walkable neighborhoods, diverse housing and an array of local businesses and services. Nearby resources will minimize car trips and maximize walking, bike-riding and person-to-person interaction. It's compact land-use planning at its best, including commercial, office, public, and recreational uses. Will it work? To find out, Chesterfield Township commissioned a first-of-its-kind traffic study, which indicated substantially fewer car trips than equivalent development under existing zoning — making many of those trips short enough to become walking trips. And the surrounding communities of Chesterfield, Sykesville and Crosswicks? Village or hamlet designations will help them maintain their historic character well into the future, while benefiting from the new town center's amenities.
Creating a Positive Economic Impact
It's one thing to preserve farmland. Chesterfield plans to go one step further by creating a demand for the business of agriculture. The town center creates a mix of retail and service businesses that will provide markets for local agricultural produce, providing opportunities in both farm and non-farm employment. By 2020, the town center project will create an estimated 457 new jobs in businesses that are commercially viable within the village, keeping property taxes balanced for the projected 3,950 new residents. Finally, the housing planned for the town center will create a healthy and sustainable neighborhood, while helping the township to meet affordable housing goals.
How Smart Growth Helped
The Chesterfield Town Center idea took root before the existence of the State Plan — putting planners in the unique position to make "before and after" comparisons. Previously on their own to contact state agencies and navigate government agency paperwork and approvals, the State Plan suddenly brought multiple state agencies together under common goals. The township has enjoyed a close, ongoing working relationship with the Office of Smart Growth. Also, the "town center" designation led to a state Smart Growth grant. All of this effort is helping the township to encourage location of commercially viable businesses into the town center. In Chesterfield, the State Plan stands as testimony to sustainable development that encourages economic prosperity while enhancing quality of life for New Jersey residents.
Stringing Together Success in Hudson County
In only 46.6 square miles, Hudson County
is home to over a half-million residents in 12 contiguous
municipalities, making it the most densely populated county
in the most densely populated state in the entire country.
Yet, Hudson County is as critical to the State Plan's vision
of compact growth and open space preservation as any parcel
of New Jersey farmland. And, it all started more than a
Protecting What's Important
It's a question of resources. Hudson County has plenty
— an urban complex of contiguous towns with water,
electrical, sewer, telecommunications and transportation
infrastructure to match. An envitable stretch of waterfront
ripe for corporate, retail and recreational development.
An ethnic and cultural melting pot, serving as a rich example
of New Jersey's 21st century society and economy.
Commuter connections to the greatest city in the world.
But, much of the infrastructure is outmoded and one community's
vision could be diametrically opposed to it's neighbor's.
However, with the State Plan as the backdrop and cross-acceptance
as the tool, Hudson County created something unique and
exciting — the Hudson County Urban Complex —
and the only acknowledged inter-municipal strategic plan
in the nation. It's a living document that sets mutually
agreed goals and objectives for 12 towns over the next 20
Enhancing Quality of Life
A vision: the year is 2005 and the 18-mile Hudson
River Waterfront Walkway is complete. Morning commuters
use the promenade to access the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail,
PATH and ferry boats. Exercisers walk, run, rollerblade
and bike an uninterrupted trail of history from Liberty
State Park to the site of the infamous Aaron Burr-Alexander
Hamilton duel in Weehawken. Couples stroll the esplanade
at night, taking in the stunning Manhattan skyline at close
range. The Walkway has even helped to improve air and water
quality and reduce traffic congestion, integrating modern
effluent management systems during its construction and
encouraging mass transit, relieving some of the Holland
and Lincoln Tunnel traffic. One block at a time, the Walkway
has added 65 acres to the region's inventory of open space
and immeasurable satisfaction to the lives of those who
use it. Sound farfetched? Don't tell that to Hudson County—nearly
10 of the proposed 18 miles have already been built.