Resiliency Planning in New Jersey
On October 29, 2019, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 89 (EO 89) in response to the anticipated severe impacts of climate change on New Jersey. Among the work set in motion by EO 89 was the development of a Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy (EO 89 at ¶ 4) and an update to the State Development and Redevelopment Plan (EO 89 at ¶ 7). In 2021, legislation and action under EO 89 resulted in (a) modification of the Municipal Land Use Law to require local master plans to include climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessments; (b) the development of an NJDEP web-based resource titled “Resilient New Jersey: Local Planning for Climate Change Toolkit” which is a resource for integrating climate change into local land use decisions and planning efforts to ensure “investments made today withstand the conditions of tomorrow and make it easier to adapt as the climate continues to change;” and (c) the issuance of the “New Jersey Climate Change Resiliency Strategy” on October 12, 2021 with its six priorities for the state. Separately, on December 13, 2021, NJDEP issued a natural and working lands strategy scoping document to begin gathering input on how best to manage natural lands and farmland to fight climate change.
Finally, throughout 2021, NJDEP has been working on extensive revisions to its Land Resource Protection (aka “Land Use”) regulations to implement changes consistent with the NJDEP’s broad based Protection Against Climate Threats (PACT) initiative. These changes will be proposed during the first quarter of 2022 and will affect future development in the coastal area, waterfront development, flood hazard area, and requirements relating to wetlands and stormwater, all of which will have a significant bearing on resiliency planning.
In response to the threats posed by climate change, New Jersey has embarked upon an ambitious, forward looking program to educate, coordinate, and manage future development and land use to prepare for rising sea levels, heavier rainfall, more severe storms and extreme weather, and generally more frequent and significant flooding. These steps are anticipated to spawn greater regulation of local land use by the state as we head into 2022 and beyond.