Although the United States does not have a national plan, it does participate in nationwide planning. This is done through different federal agencies such as the Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Transportation. New Jersey has it’s own history with state planning and dates back to as far as 1917 when the Home Rule Act was created. Throughout the next ten years, many things were enacted like municipalities being able to form their own school districts and the legitimization of zoning. In 1950, the first statewide development plan for New Jersey was announced, and twenty-five years later, we see the Mount Laurel I decision and the Mount Laurel II decision come about. This Mount Laurel doctrine required that municipalities affirmatively use their zoning powers to give realistic opportunities to the production of affordable housing for the lower income households. From this came the State Planning Act. The goals of the act that was in response to Mount Laurel II decision was to coordinate planning between state and local governments, revitalize urban centers, protect the environment, provide affordable housing, and balance private and public investment in infrastructure. This act also created what is now the Office of Planning Advocacy, and gave the responsibility for development and implementation of the Development and Redevelopment Plan to the State Planning Commission. The State Development and Redevelopment Plan was first implemented in 1992 and guaranteed regularity between the plans of the state and the plans of counties.

In 2001, the State Development and Redevelopment Plan was updated with the new objectives being to maintain and revitalize towns and cities, protect natural resources and farmland, and focus growth into mix-used communities. It also divided the land area in New Jersey into “planning areas” (i.e. PA1-urban, PA2-suburban, etc.) and promoted “center-based” growth such as urban centers, villages, and regional centers.

State Plan Map.jpg

Nine years later, in 2010, Governor Chris Christie was elected and threw away the State Development and Redevelopment Plan. Many people had criticized the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, saying it was bureaucratic, used a top-down planning system, and was overall ineffective. I find that the plan itself sounded like a smart plan in building up New Jersey, but wasn’t executed properly. Top-down planning isn’t the most strategic method and does not have the advantages that planning from the bottom-up would have. Therefore, the State Development and Redevelopment Plan had some good goals, but was ultimately seen as a failure.