Home > Uncategorized > Christie Agenda Comes to the Pinelands

Christie Agenda Comes to the Pinelands

Surprise, Surprise!

We last visited the lovely Pinelands in this December 2010 post: Christie Names Former Builders Lobbyist As Head of Pinelands Commission

When a Governor and his DEP Commissioner’s entire world is in thrall to the economic development hammer, protection of the environment becomes little more than a regulatory nail.

Kirk Moore reports in today’s Asbury park Press:

Pinelands director talks of streamlining


PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP  – With its budget slashed and workforce reduced by 30 percent, the state Pinelands Commission is looking for more ways to streamline its regulatory process and be prepared when economic recovery brings builders back to the region, Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg said Thursday.

It’s bad enough that funding is slashed and regulations and programs are being gutted.

But it is vile that depleted staff resources, priorities, and policy planning are focused on preparing to stimulate future economic development.

First of all, promoting economic development is a totally inappropriate role for the Pinelands Commission to play, as it violates their fundamental mission, which is to preserve the Pinelands National Reserve, and only allow compatible development.

The primarly goal of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan is:

to preserve and protect the significant and unique natural, ecological, agricultural, archaeological, historical, scenic, cultural and recreational resources of the Pinelands

There is nothing in that statutorily established mission and federally approved management goal to promote economic development. [Note: do I have to draw a map? Hint: federal oversight].

And there is a HUGE difference between regional planning and regulation to allow compatible development – the Commission’s historic role and preservation oriented priority – and the new Christie policy to streamline regulation to stimulate, promote, and anticipate future economic development.

Second, any future development boom is very unlikely to come any time soon.

So the Commission has plenty of time to focus on core mission critical tasks, like preservation of habitat and forests, and protection of water quality.

Last, although Wittenberg talks positively about working with DEP on Barnegat Bay restoration, we note that Governor Christie’s Comprensive Management Plan  for Barnegat Bay does not provide a role for the Pinelands Commission and does not even mention the Commission.

This omission was no accident.

The Commission was cut out of the game because Governor Christie, his DEP Commissioner, and developers hate regulation, especially the kind of regional land use planning and preservation oriented regulation implemented by the Pinelands Commission.

In fact, the Governor’s Plan clearly retains the voluntary (non-regulatory) Barnegat Bay Partnership as the co-lead with DEP. Here’s what the Governor’s Plan says:

Establishing a Special Area Management Plan: Develop a Special Area Management Plan in conjunction with the Barnegat Bay Partnership to improve coordination among jurisdictions in the Barnegat Bay watershed and recommend any additional required research to the DEP.

Like we’ve repeatedly warned, that voluntary and local approach is designed to fail.

Be sure to read the full APP story here.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.