The Builders League of South Jersey (BLSJ) is helping organize the state's builders against Gov. James E. McGreevey's smart-growth proposals, the most offensive of which is a one-year building moratorium.
The trade group estimates that a one-year building moratorium would cost $1.2 billion in lost income in the seven South Jersey counties alone, along with a $206 million loss in tax revenues and 26,352 jobs.
The builders expect that a smart-growth bill will be introduced in the state legislature later this year. Here are BLSJ's main arguments:
* Support for cluster zoning. Many of the rural areas in New Jersey have been holding back development by zoning for three-acre lots or larger. So when development does occur, it tends to be for more-expensive homes, and towns spend up to $40,000 an acre of taxpayer dollars to provide for open space. BLSJ prefers a cluster zoning scenario. For example, when 150 acres are being developed, builders could set aside 100 acres for open space and build 50 homes--one home per lot--on the remaining 50 acres.
* Fair impact fees. Municipalities have charged impact fees for several years for roads and water and sewer lines but not for schools. Under Gov. McGreevey's proposal, towns would be allowed to levy impact fees for new school construction. The builders are concerned that if new fees were passed it would be difficult to keep costs under control.
* Sensible regional planning. New Jersey is a strong home rule state with 566 municipalities, many of them very small. McGreevey wants counties to play a larger role in planning across a broad geographic region. The builders support regional planning for roads and general development but are concerned that it will be very difficult to wrestle planning authority away from local municipalities and make the county a one-stop shop.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlantic City, NJ.