Home > Uncategorized > NJ State Planners Issue Local Government “Climate Resilience” Guidance Document

NJ State Planners Issue Local Government “Climate Resilience” Guidance Document

The Voluntary Local Approach Abdicates State Government’s Role

Toothless State Plan Can Not Be Effective

The Whole Approach Is Designed To Fail

[Update – 10/5/21 – See Office of State Planning response below]

The NJ Office of Planning Advocacy today posted an important (draft?) document:

The document implements a recently enacted law that amended the NJ Municipal Land Use Law to require that municipalities plan for climate resilience. I previously wrote about that bill, see:

Towns are only required to revise their Master Plan to include a “resilience strategy” – they are not required to adopt enforceable zoning changes or land use ordinances or revenue mechanisms to  finance and actually implement the strategy.

The State Planning Commission is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. to consider and take public comment on the (draft?) Guidance. I am not sure if they will approve it or how they intend to handle any public comment or whether they are required to do so. [see this for context]

Regardless, here are my ** initial review comments I sent to the Office of State Planning just now:

Thank you – I would like to make the following comments for your consideration:

1) “extreme weather” must explicitly include excessive heat waves or excessive heat events. Did I miss that in this draft?

2) “resilience strategies” must explicitly include mitigation of urban heat island effects and other preparation and response actions to excessive heat events. This would include an urban forestry and parks component. Did I miss that in this draft?

3) disproportionate and disparate impact analysis in “environmental justice communities” must be explicitly addressed in the Guidance. Did I miss that in this draft?

4) I understand that the State Plan and this Guidance are voluntary and not regulatory, but there still needs to be a more aggressive planning policy to encourage municipalities to actually implement the Guidance via enforceable means, including zoning and land use ordinances.

Perhaps your Office might consider holding public hearings and developing a policy planning paper on related issues, such as Statewide versus local responsibilities, and voluntary versus regulatory approaches. 

Clearly, voluntary and local based approaches have not been and will not be effective. We must move towards a more Statewide and mandatory policy.

5) where will the funding come from to respond to this Guidance?

6) Are there any science based technical standards that govern? e.g. statistical frequency of storm events (500 year storm?) It is my understanding that DEP’s various stormwater, coastal, and flood management regulatory programs are based on the 100 year storm, which fails to consider climate science and the actual flood events over the last 10 years in NJ.

Even FEMA strongly criticized these DEP flaws, which remain and have not been reformed by the Murphy DEP, see:

7) There needs to be a much greater focus and far more detail on implementation of the resilience strategy.

8) Under the authorizing legislation and this Guidance, municipalities are limited to “resilience” (climate adaptation) planning and appear to have no role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) or promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency or renewable energy. These are serious flaws.

9) It is inappropriate for a State Agency Guidance document to include incorporation of recommendations of private groups, including NJ Future and Sustainable NJ. This is a subtle form of outsourcing and privatization.

On what basis were these groups’ work incorporated in this Guidance?

For example, supposed the NJ Builders Assc. or NIAOP developed their own recommendations – would your Office include them as well?

I appreciate your consideration and response.

Bill Wolfe

** these comments were expanded after I submitted them and links included

Update: 10/5/21


While we made some minor languages changes based on your suggestions, much of your references are already included in the links.  Additionally, a link is provided to the 2020 scientific report that informed development of the Climate Change Resilience Strategy, which you can find online.

We fully vet efforts by non-governmental agencies and will include the references if they are in line with state policy.  Further, Sustainable Jersey is quasi-governmental organization and NJ Future has worked with DEP in the past on several related issues. We are comfortable including their work in this document as they are in line with state policy.  In fact, one link in this document, the NJ Developers Green Infrastructure Guide, involves contributions from the NJ Builders Association was a partner in developing that document.

I agree that there must be additional focus on implementation; in fact this document is OPA’s first step in providing just that kind of focus.  A recent change to the Municipal Land Use Law requires incorporating resiliency assessment and strategies in the Master Plan.  Keep in mind, however, that this guidance and these requirements will continue to be updated and refined as DEP’s Strategy evolves.

Discussion are underway at/with DEP regarding public hearings and working with municipalities for local input which is something that is planned for early next year.

Other items that you reference such as funding for this guidance is currently under discussion.  This document provides guidance for those municipalities that choose to go further in their planning and implementation than is currently required in MLUL, but we cannot wait to plan for finalization of funding options and other issues.

The matter will be discussed at tomorrow’s SPC meeting.

Donna A Rendeiro

Executive Director

State Planning Commission

Office of Planning Advocacy

NJ Business Action Center

Office of the Secretary of State

33 W. State Street, 4th Floor

PO Box 820

Trenton, NJ 08625-0820


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