Light Reading for Thanksgiving Morning

From ROI-NJ:

Smart Growth coalition offers Murphy blueprint for economy

For all the talk of attracting companies, the fact remains that the state has a land supply problem, especially in Northern New Jersey.

Consider this: If a manufacturer wanted to bring a few thousand jobs to the port district in northern New Jersey, state officials would not be able — today or anytime soon — to point the business to a single shovel-ready site or even a vacant existing structure. Worse yet, if the company required only a 1 million-square-foot building, it would still be hard pressed to find a shovel-ready site or existing vacant building within 25 miles of the Statue of Liberty.

“Progress has been made in a variety of areas, but much more needs to be done if our state’s economic engine is going to be fed by additional housing and commercial space,” the report states. “There is a scant amount of developable acreage remaining in places where people actually want to work and reside.

“What’s left to feed the engine are the challenging (read: cost-prohibitive) redevelopment sites in our suburban downtowns and urban central business districts, along waterfronts, on brownfields and around and above transit hubs.

“Redevelopment is New Jersey’s best viable long-term growth vehicle. The state must embrace redevelopment and help bridge its unique added costs, while also permitting (not obstructing) responsible greenfield development throughout the planning areas of New Jersey.”

The state’s economy is in a perilous position, the group states.

LOCAL LAND-USE LAW: Get with the times (and all other states)

Inside the recommendation

A serious effort must be made to make the local land-use process more predictable and to identify and implement amendments to the municipal land use law, or MLUL, that lead to greater consistency in the entitlements process and a substantial reduction in the cost and time expended in pursuit of development approvals.

Local land-use bodies must adapt to the realities of modern life. Parking ratios of yesteryear have less relevance in a society trending towards ride-sharing (Lyft/Uber), car-sharing (ZipCar) and autonomous vehicles. Many of today’s mixed-use concepts were simply not contemplated in the traditional lists of permitted uses. There is no better example than “retail” uses; if brick-and-mortar stores in our state are going to be able to successfully compete with e-commerce, local land-use ordinances must allow “omnichannel” uses (curbside deliveries, showrooming, extra-large storage areas for customer pickups and returns, etc.) and hybrid uses (arcades and amusement areas within restaurants, grooming services and overnight facilities in pet stores, etc.).

The challenges become even more complicated for those undertaking transit-oriented development, or TOD. A persistent problem inhibiting TODs is the lack of coordination between NJ Transit and the municipalities in which train stations are located. Despite all the “transit friendly” talk in our state, there is simply no joint vision or strategy between NJ Transit and the train towns to promote, facilitate and implement TODs. This failure is impeding if not precluding what is arguably the most attractive potential source of smart growth development in our state, and must be addressed early in the next administration/legislative session.

Simply put, the state that limits the sale of merchandise on Sundays, restricts the sale of Teslas in malls, bans the issuance of customer coupons on gasoline and milk, concentrates the sale of alcoholic beverages in a select number of restaurants and the sale of package goods in an even more select number of grocery stores must get with the other 49 states.

The background

The “home rule” tax: Development in most of New Jersey begins before a local planning or zoning board; we are, after all, a “home rule” state. But it is time to consider the “tax” effect of home rule because underneath its express policy rationale — uniformity in the approval process — lies the reality: pursuing approvals and developing land in New Jersey is often a very different experience from one municipality to another. Every municipality has its own zoning ordinance and its own planning and zoning boards, establishes its own standards and fees and, to some extent, its own procedures.

The unpredictability problem: Far from facilitating uniformity, home rule has given us a lack of predictability and consistency in the approval process. The reputation of home rule is well-known to corporate site selectors and developers across the country. Unlike other taxes, which are quantifiable, the home rule tax is the leading variable expense, in terms of outright dollars and wasted time, in far too many projects. Even those who have developed land in New Jersey for decades cannot realistically predict how long it will take to get through the entitlements process and how much will it cost.

SHORTAGE OF LAND: It takes a state to create space

Inside the recommendation

New Jersey needs a concerted effort at every level of government to assist the private sector in “making land.” In other words, the state needs to eliminate or reduce the hurdles inherent in remediating, assembling and entitling large-tract sites. For starters, land held by public and quasi-public agencies in strategically located areas should be freed up for redevelopment. Examples include salt domes and DPW maintenance yards along valuable roadways when comparable alternatives are available elsewhere.

Next, for such sites to be even more transformative, they must be combined with adjacent privately held properties, and intervening streets must be vacated to add contiguity and open up even more aggregation options.

Thus, unlocking the value of vacant or underutilized private property is essential to the making-land effort. One major impediment has been environmental contamination. Cleaning up sites is expensive; as a result, many landowners run a skeleton business just to avoid ISRA compliance that would be triggered by the cessation of operations. This has to change.

Government at all levels must proactively encourage these property owners to sell, through efforts that include the carrot of bonus values, remediation incentives and equal or better relocation options for active businesses, and the stick of forced cleanups where contaminants threaten the environment.

The background

Increase in demand: The need for warehouse, distribution, data center, logistics, research and development, and manufacturing space has increased significantly in the last 10 years. In the port district of northern New Jersey, we are experiencing the lowest vacancy rates in over 30 years; vacancy rates in other industrial submarkets around the state are also down significantly.

Few sites shovel-ready: There are only a handful of large-scale clean (remediated), assembled, entitled and otherwise shovel-ready sites remaining in the port district of northern New Jersey. The primary reason for the lack of sites is clear: Few redevelopers have the time, patience and risk tolerance to take on a land assemblage involving holdout property owners, eminent domain, environmental cleanup, multi-year permitting, etc.

Other options (states) available: Most redevelopers of large, complicated sites operate in multiple states where development on greenfields is still possible and where redevelopment is easier; in other words, they have choices on where to build. Not even incentives or the crazy rental numbers and selling prices in today’s market are enough to entice them into taking on these challenging, potentially career-killing projects.

This entry was posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Light Reading for Thanksgiving Morning

  1. Chi says:


  2. grim says:

    Happy Thanksgiving everybody

  3. Leftwing says:

    Happy Thanksgiving. Hope everyone is with family and friends.

    I have clipped and hung these two editorials on the refrigerator this day since my late 20s. Still the only hard copy of the newspaper I purchase each year. Enjoy.

    The Desolate Wilderness

  4. dentss dunnigan says:

    Nice article …Amazon will be forever grateful they did not choose this state .

  5. grim says:

    What surprises me most is that progressive liberals still can’t draw the distinction between founding myths/folklore and history. Surely they spent some portion of their liberal educations learning about the roles of folklore and mythology in society (I was Honors in Humanities). What we teach 5 year olds about the founding of the country and the customs of Thanksgiving are entirely different from the history, no one questions that, no one hid the truth of what really happened. It really seems like all they remember from school is what they were taught in kindergarten, and they slept through all the rest of their American History classes, in High School and University, and only now they are singlehandedly uncovering this massive travesty for the first time. Like most myths and customs, they inherit from the customs before them, you can easily trace a line back to harvest celebrations in Europe, and pagan harvest ceremonies before that. This is the culture of our country, the common folklore that we share. Since when do you attack folklore and myth as being inaccurate? I would imagine a progressive liberal would be aghast at someone questioning the creation myth shared by Buddhists, or Native Americans, or attacking the culture of some foreign people as being backward, incorrect, because it isn’t rooted in literal truth. It’s OK, we can share some shred of common culture as a country, it’s the glue that has made us one people, despite our diverse heritage.

  6. Nwnj says:

    The next thing the unions will torpedo is legal weed. It’s way too profitable for them. I would bet anyone that it isn’t legal in the next three years. For the children is course.

  7. grim says:

    I’m sure it will be a limited licensure scenario, and the licenses will all be doled out to politically connected cronies.

  8. Nwnj says:

    I don’t think it will get that far unless something changes nationwide.

    Murphy is a pie in the sky fool. Never spent a day inoffice. Unions have spoken on the 15 dollar minimum wage, it’s dead before he took office. They willl kill legal weed too.

  9. 3b says:

    Grim so true on progressives and their desire to destroy that which does not suit their world view while ignoring customs from other places that would certainly not fit with their world view of things. As an amateur historian who has a passion for the subject it infuriates me to listen to people opine on subjects they know nothing about.

  10. 3b says:

    Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

  11. Fabius Maximus says:

    “so true on progressives and their desire to destroy that which does not suit their world”

    What a complete crock. At least Grim has an excuse in that he has probably been sampling his own product all morning.

    Two words “Muslim Ban!”

  12. Chuchundra says:

    I’ll just leave this here for you, Grim

    Happy Thanksgving

  13. exJersey says:

    11:16 – comparo – Calif. liquor lisc. $10k in Ventura Co.
    fee for dispensary lisc. $80k.

    Betcha it’s 10x that in NJ. Just a guess.

  14. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

    “You win the battle in front of you and then just go on to the next.”

  15. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    I sliced a stick of butter in 4 long, longitudinal slices earlier today. I then laid them side-by-side and grated about a half clove of fresh garlic on the long, thin, butter slices. I sprinkled some chives, rosemary, and thyme on top of the 4 long butter slices next.

    Then I moved on to some breast groping. I shoved my invasive fingers way up between the skin and breast of our turkey, separating the skin from the breast meat. I then slid the four herb and spice enhanced butter slices way up there, spice side down.

    We’ll find out in a couple hours if I’m a genius or not.

  16. JJ fanboy says:

    Expat are you running for office or moving to Hollywood?

  17. 3b says:

    Fab sorry but you are wrong. The progressive left scream s about fundamental Christian s and their Adam and eve world view yet turn a blind eye to Muslim views on women and homosexuality among other subjects. Does not fit the narrative eliminate it. Far easier to blame Christopher Columbus for single handedly being responsible for the destruction of the indigenous people.

  18. Comrade Nom Deplume, looking for a bump stock or five says:

    Two words: Gooner Ban

    That’s truly one way to Make America Great Again

  19. exJersey says:

    Columbus Day was conceived by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic Fraternal organization, in the 1930s because they wanted a Catholic hero. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the day into law as a federal holiday in 1937, the rest has been history.

  20. SorryToLeave says:

    This is a funny story. I wonder if NJ Liberals believe it.

    You don’t have a “land problem”. You have a corrupt government problem. Have you ever tried to do anything in NJ? LOL.

    Get real.

  21. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    That’s the end of the story, not the beginning. Columbus day was actually first promoted by the Columbian order. They were looking for some kind of truly “American” hero (which to them was a white European) to symbolize the US and it’s history of daring white men who crossed the Atlantic to gain wealth.

    The first Columbus Day celebration took place in 1792, when New York’s Columbian Order—better known as Tammany Hall—held an event to commemorate the historic landing’s 300th anniversary. Taking pride in Columbus’ birthplace and faith, Italian and Catholic communities in various parts of the country began organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor.

    In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage with patriotic festivities, writing, “On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.”

    In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday, largely as a result of intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic fraternal organization.

  22. grim says:

    There is a role of myth and culture in society.

    Where there is a void of culture (the new America), one will develop, complete with it’s own set of mythologies. You can see how these different cultural groups all contributed, based on their waves of migration, etc.

  23. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    That’s exactly what the Columbian Order was doing, creating the myth, at least that’s how my daughter’s history teacher explained it. She likes to teach the kids not only what the historical facts are, but also how the historical record is/was viewed during different times in history. The Columbus pushers generally agreed that our culture wouldn’t be eulogized by elevating our war heroes, that was just so old world European.

  24. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    I’m waiting for the liberal statue hating Mafia to go after any statue of any white man who achieved greatness prior to 1920. After all, they implicitly supported the suppression of women’s rights.

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