Home > Uncategorized > Gov. Murphy Quietly Signs Major Redevelopment Law – No Standards To Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy & Environmental Justice

Gov. Murphy Quietly Signs Major Redevelopment Law – No Standards To Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy & Environmental Justice

Vulture Redevelopment – All Subsides, No Sticks

Building Sector A Significant Source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Another Huge Missed Opportunity To Address Climate Crisis

Source: NJ DEP (2017) - link below

Source: NJ DEP (2017) – link below

NJ Gov. Murphy quietly signed a bill into law (A1700) that provides “incentives” (AKA public subsidies) to redevelop abandoned or under-utilized lands by expanding the criteria for municipalities to designate lands as “in need of redevelopment“.

According to the bill’s statement:

This bill, as amended, would amend the “Local Redevelopment and Housing Law,” P.L.1992, c.79 (C.40A:12A-1 et seq.), to specify that a municipality may determine an area to be in need of redevelopment if the area contains buildings that are used as, or were previously used as, a shopping mall, a shopping plaza, or a professional office park, and the buildings have been vacant, or partially vacant with less than 50 percent occupancy, for a period of at least two years. This bill will allow municipalities to use the powers authorized under Article VIII, Section III, paragraph 1 of the State Constitution to redevelop these “stranded assets.” By specifying that a vacant shopping mall or office park is an area in need of redevelopment, a municipality can offer potential private sector partners redevelopment tools such as tax exemptions and abatements to encourage them to repurpose these stranded assets.

There was no fiscal note or impact statement on the bill and I didn’t research this legislation and listen to the testimony, but experience suggests the bill will have significant impacts on redevelopment, local budgets, and all the adverse impacts associated with development: e.g. air & water pollution, traffic, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

The NJ State Planning Commission has a GIS data layer that maps these areas, but I lack software to access it. Have at it GIS geeks! Keep in mind that the bill will expand these existing designated areas greatly and that the actual future impacts are not knowable because there is no statewide inventory of these parcels. The State provides the typical huge caveats to those data and maps:

Distribution Liability: The State of New Jersey provides this product “as is”. The State makes no guarantee or warranty concerning the accuracy of information contained in the data. Also, the State makes no warranty, either expressed or implied, regarding the condition of the product or its fitness for any particular purpose. The burden for determining fitness for use lies entirely with the user. Although these data files have been processed successfully on computers at the State, no warranty is made by the State regarding the use of the data on any other system, nor does the fact of distribution constitute or imply such a warranty.

NJ has substantial older industrial areas, deteriorating first generation inner ring suburban sprawl,  and run down vacant office parks, shopping strip malls, and other lands the bill applies to.

The building sector is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. According to DEP’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (2017 update), residential, commercial and industrial buildings account for at least 31.4% of total emissions (see chart above).

The Gov. has made numerous promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The BPU draft Energy Master Plan suggests the need to establish new energy related building codes, including not only for new buildings, but for redevelopment and retrofit of existing buildings.

The BPU Energy Master Plan has an “overarching strategy” to:

Reduce Energy Consumption and Emissions from the Buildings Sector

The Gov.’s approval of the redevelopment legislation completely ignores the BPU draft EMP strategy for buildings:

Strategy 4: Reduce Energy Use and Emissions from the Building Sector. Buildings are responsible for a combined 61.7% of the state’s total end-use energy consumption. Given this, the building sector should be largely decarbonized and electrified by 2050 with an early focus on new construction and the electrification of oil- and propane-fueled buildings. We must expand and accelerate the current statewide net zero carbon homes incentive programs for both new construction and existing homes, study and develop mechanisms and regulations to support net zero carbon new construction, and develop EV ready and demand response ready building codes for new multi-unit dwelling and commercial construction. We must also develop a transition plan to a fully electrified building sector, including appliances like electrified heat pumps and hot water heaters.

Yet despite the need to reduce GHG emissions from the building sector, including the need to upgrade energy related building codes; install energy efficiency and renewable energy; and phase out fossil energy, the bill is silent on energy and greenhouse gas emissions and does nothing to address the need for stronger building codes.

Similarly, redevelopment provides opportunities to integrate a host of climate policies, including zero carbon transportation (pedestrian, bicycles, electric vehicles), public transit, affordable housing, enhanced stormwater management, water efficiency, micro-grid/energy storage, and urban forestry to sequester carbon and reduce urban heat island effect. None of that was even on the table during consideration of this bill, never mind included in the bill.

Thus, the bill is another huge missed opportunity to respond to the climate crisis.

The bill also contradicts Gov. Murphy’s opposition to excessive public subsidies to economic development and Executive Orders to promote Environmental Justice (like climate change, there is nothing in the legislation about environmental justice and disproportionate and cumulate impacts). Hypocrisy is too generous a term.

The public gets nothing back for the subsidies – incentives – including  “tax exemptions and abatements”.

The fact that Gov. Murphy signed the bill strongly suggests that he is not serious about addressing the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions – or really implementing climate or environmental justice policies.

[End Note: The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Dancer, who was the driving force behind the sham sewer plan in New Egypt. I think that portions of un-sewered New Egypt were designated “in need of redevelopment” (please correct me if I’m wrong on this).

Another potential abuse of this designation power is illustrated by the redevelopment that amounted to racist ethnic cleansing at the Gardens in Mt. Holly.

So not only does the law fail to address climate and environmental justice, it fails to reform known egregious abuses of prior law.  ~~~ end note]

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