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The Smart Growth Planning Grant Program is administered through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and has provided grants to municipalities and counties throughout New Jersey for State Plan implementation projects as well as projects deemed to promote "Smart Growth" principles. Many of the projects that have already been funded, including the Hunterdon County Smart Growth Grant, are aimed at producing plans that are consistent with the State Plan. The first budget appropriation of $3.0 million was made in FY 2000, with additional appropriations of $3.0 million in FY2001 and FY 2002.
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The County Growth Management Plan is a document prepared by the County Planning Board that identifies the major issues facing the County as well as current and future potential trends. These include transportation, land use, the environment, open space preservation and community design, among others. The County Growth Management Plan is regional in focus and provides information on where we are, where we are going, and where we could be.
County Growth Management Plans provide a framework for regional planning policy with the hopes that concepts and tools will filter down for use at the local level. The County Planning Board will seek municipal endorsement of the County Growth Management Plan in hopes that municipalities will "buy-in" to the plan and make use of the tools and policies it contains.
The Hunterdon County Planning Board will prepare a plan unique to the needs of Hunterdon County, but will seek endorsement of this plan by the State Planning Commission. This means that the State Plan may generally influence the County Growth Management Plan, but all policies will be representative of the needs of Hunterdon County.
The plan endorsement was established by the New Jersey Office of State Planning and the State Planning Commission to review the planning documents of a county or municipality for consistency with the State Plan. Plan endorsement essentially means that the goals and policies advance the goals of the State Planning Act. Plan Endorsement in New Jersey also confers the benefits of priority for a number of State programs that include grant money and other forms of assistance.
The best way to get involved in the planning process is to attend public meetings and committee meetings. Check the committee lists and meeting calendars and attend any of the meetings being held. You may also provide your written comments to the Board at any time.
Smart Growth is a term that describes growth patterns and locations that reflect sensible investment decisions and respect impacts at both the municipal and regional level. Generally speaking, Smart Growth does not promote sprawl, preserves open space and farmland, provides infrastructure and services to residents in an efficient manner, combats traffic and roadway tie-ups by maximizing mass transit availability and develops land in an efficient manner that protects community character. New Jersey's Smart Growth Initiative is carried out by the State Planning Commission and the Office of State Planning.