It's official New Meadowlands master plan passes
Jan 16, 2004 | 1355 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At a Jan. 8 meeting that Meadowlands officials are calling "historic," members of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission passed two initiatives and introduced a third, that will change the course of economic growth and environmental preservation in the Meadowlands, one of the country's largest urban wetlands systems.

"Thanks to today's announcement, the New Jersey Meadowlands will become a shining example of Governor McGreevey's Smart Growth vision," said Susan Bass Levin, NJMC Chairman and Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. "Our new Master Plan - the first in more than 30 years - reinforces Governor McGreevey's commitment to curbing uncontrolled growth and protecting New Jersey's open spaces. Together with our municipal and county government partners, we will make the master plan's vision a reality."

"The new master plan is a bold effort to give the salt marshes and Hackensack River the protection and wildlife management they need and deserve," said NJMC Executive Director Robert Ceberio. "At the same time, we are bringing people to the area to enjoy our natural treasures, we are cleaning up polluted and blighted areas, and we are pursuing ambitious redevelopment projects that compliment the urban wilderness our district offers."

The New Jersey Meadowlands Master Plan

The Master Plan calls for the preservation of the 8,400-acre Meadowlands urban wetlands ecosystem. The Master Plan is also designed to revitalize areas that are polluted or blighted into strong points of economic and community-oriented growth, setting the stage for redevelopment with a potential market value of $5.6 billion and the creation of 56,250 new permanent jobs.

The plan will establish places for fishing, boating and walking; and calls for the completion of the Meadows Path, 26 miles of trails that stretch from Little Ferry to Kearny, and the Secaucus Greenway that stretches from Ridgefield to Jersey City.

In support of the new Master Plan, the NJMC also approved new regulations and a new zoning map, and introduced a regional transportation plan to further encourage smart growth in the Meadowlands District. This streamlined set of regulations will give district municipalities an enhanced role in charting their own future.

The Regulations and Zoning Map

The map details zoning and land use regulations, which will give the master plan its teeth. The rules set the stage for redevelopment, which over 25 years will include 24 million square feet of commercial space and 2,750 hotel rooms. When added to other redevelopment initiatives, the regulations will help create a $73.1 million positive fiscal impact for the district's 14 municipalities. The regulations will also establish a broad green zone along the Hackensack River and will mandate that municipalities be the first to see plans for future construction.

The Meadowlands Mobility 2030

The transportation plan is a wide-ranging document that covers mobility planning both within and outside of the district. The document merges existing and future projects into one comprehensive plan, and investigates rail expansion, better roads, bus rapid transit (BRT), the movement of freight, and augmented satellite parking to pick up traffic before it hits the Meadowlands.

Public comments on the plan can be sent to the NJMC.

Rothman praises plan

Rep Steve Rothman (D-9th Dist), who has been at the forefront of preserving the remaining 8,400 undeveloped acres of wetlands, praised the commission's move.

"This is a bold, historic step which fulfills the call I made in the year 2000 to draw a strong green line around the contiguous, undeveloped system of waterways and marshes that comprise the unique, 8,400 acre Meadowlands ecosystem," Rothman said. "The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission has been a great and invaluable partner in this effort, and today's adoption of the new Master Plan exemplifies the Commission's strong belief in the preservation of this precious site."

Rothman expressed his gratitude to the NJMC for fully matching the $4.2 million in federal land acquisition funds he secured over the past three years as a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Rothman also praised the NJMC for partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a three-year, $5.2 million federal study Rothman obtained, which will help determine how to best cleanup and preserve the Meadowlands. Rothman organized the study and got the U.S. Congress to fund the initiative in June 2001. This year, the Congress is expected to approve additional funds for the study and remediation efforts in the Meadowlands.

"I am very pleased that I have been able to bring the resources of the federal government back to New Jersey to help create the Meadowlands Environmental Park, saving those precious acres and relieving the full financial burden for that conservation effort from our already overburdened local taxpayers," Rothman said. "With the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission as a fully committed partner in our conservation efforts, I am very excited about the years ahead as we make great strides in turning our dream of a Meadowlands Environmental Park into a reality."
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