A contract for a project to provide West Milford and other Highlands municipalities with critical guidance about how best to incorporate a wide range of climate resiliency components into local planning documents, as required by law, was approved by the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council at their Feb. 17 meeting.
“Recent amendments to Municipal Land Use Law now require towns to incorporate smart growth, storm resiliency, environmental sustainability, electric vehicle infrastructure planning, and climate change hazard vulnerability assessments in their master plans,” explained Lisa J. Plevin, Highlands Council Executive Director. “This guidance document will provide a much needed template for Highlands municipalities to use in meeting these new requirements.”
The contract, not to exceed $89,000, was awarded to New Jersey Future, a nonprofit organization focused on smart growth, explained Carole Ann Dicton, communications manage. The full project team will also include professionals from Sustainable Jersey Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions (BRS) Inc., and The Land Conservancy of New Jersey (TLCNJ).
Deliverables listed in the contract include not only guidance materials, but also a stakeholder outreach program and municipal workshops. The guidance developed will also lay the foundation for the development of a Highlands Plan Conformance grant program to help municipalities fund this work. The contracted work is expected to be concluded before the end of the current year.
“The challenges of addressing climate change are no longer something we can push off and think about in the future,” former West Milford Mayor Carl Richko, who is now Highlands Council chairman, said. “New Jersey has taken a leadership role in its Climate Change Resilience Strategy and some of our Highlands municipalities have already reached out to us, eager to begin this work.”
Actions taken by the Highlands Council at their meeting will take effect following the Governor’s review and consideration of the meeting minutes, up to 10 business days from receipt of the minutes. Materials related to this meeting, including resolutions, presentations, audio, and minutes will be posted at nj.gov/njhighlands/about/calend (click on Feb. 17, 2022 meeting).
The Highlands Council is a regional planning agency established in 2004 with the passage of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act and charged with implementation of the Act. More information is available at nj.gov/njhighlands.