More corporations and residents are seeing the diversity, accessibility, culture and infrastructure of New Jersey’s cities due to Smart Growth in this state. Smart Growth is the term used to describe planned and managed growth that adds new homes and creates new jobs, while preserving open space, farmland, and environmental resources. Smart Growth not only saves time and money, but it means new offices and businesses and new jobs to New Jersey’s economy in a way that enhances the communities where people already live. This is all done without raising taxes, adding to road and traffic congestion, and without polluting  farmland, beachfronts, woodlands and open spaces.Smart Growth can be seen all around us: it is evident in larger cities such as Elizabeth and Jersey City; in smaller towns like Red Bank and Hoboken, and in the rural communities like Chesterfield and Hope, (Smart Growth).

Smart Growth is comprised of many principles. Clustered developments work best when they include a mix of land uses, for example: stores, jobs, and homes. There is a range of housing choice and opportunity. Not everyone wants the same thing. Communities should offer different types of houses, condominiums, homes for low income families, and even for different ages. Smart Growth also takes pedestrians into account by implementing walkable neighborhoods. These places not only offer space to walk, but something to walk to.  In every community, there are things that make each place special. It is a distinctive and attractive community because it offers a sense of place:  from train stations to local businesses. There is open space, farmland, and scenic resource preservation in a Smart Growth community. People want to stay connected to nature and protect farms, waterways, ecosystems and wildlife, (Primer on Smart Growth). The future developments are strengthened and directed to existing communities using whatever infrastructure already exists. Opportunities to grow are found in already built areas first. Communities with Smart Growth have a variety of transportation options including safe and reliable public transportation, sidewalks, and bike paths. They make  fair and cost-effective development decisions.  Also, the community collaborated in development decision-making. The plans developed without the majority of the community won’t have strength to uphold it. When people feel left out of important decisions that will impact their lives and future, they won’t be there to help out when tough choices have to be made.

There are many benefits to Smart Growth for people in the community. For residents it is all about improving quality of life, preserving valued resources, and saving tax money. More jobs means more tax revenue with leads to less taxes on residents. The quality of life improves because by creating new opportunities for residential development in urban and suburban communities. Revitalization will help more businesses to stay or locate in New Jersey. This would encourage small business and improve New Jersey’s status as a corporate location. Housing becomes affordable and there would be a greater variety of housing options and more efficient transportation. Smart Growth encourages protection for historic sites and districts, which provides incentives for builders and developers to revitalize historically significant buildings and areas. “The Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University projects tax savings of $160 million annually in municipal, county and school taxes, $870 million in local road costs and $1.45 billion in water and sewer infrastructure costs if Smart Growth guidelines are followed in full”, (Smart Growth Benefits). Smart Growth guides the local governments to plan their communities for regional and statewide benefit. Meeting the present needs of the community wouldn’t compromise its future. Smart Growth gives citizens more control and participation in the areas they live in.

Smart Growth helped the city of Chesterfield. This town is located in Northern Burlington County is one of the areas in the Garden State’s “farm belt.” Smart Growth  was used to help preserve the disappearing open space and farmland by creating a town center. They decided to not only preserve the farmland but create a business of agriculture. The town center would have a mix of retail and businesses that would provide markets for local agricultural produce. This would provide opportunities in both farm and non-farm employment. Chesterfield’s new town center was designed to attract diversity in residents and businesses. The city hoped that these people would be attracted to all it had to offer and stay.  “By 2020, the town center project will create an estimated 457 new jobs in businesses that are commercially viable within the village, keeping property taxes balanced for the projected 3,950 new residents”, (Success Stories). Smart Growth guided Chesterfield to be a testimony to sustainable development that leads to economic prosperity while improving the quality of life for New Jersey residents.

Communities throughout New Jersey are following Smart Growth guidelines to enhance quality of life and create sustainable economic opportunities for their residents as well as encouraging environmental and historic preservation. Whether the community’s priority is education, environment, transportation, housing, development, or revitalization, Smart Growth can help.

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