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Red Tape Review Calls for Moving, Strengthening State Planning Commission and Office of Smart Growth

April 20, 2010

Red Tape Review Group. Source: northjersey.com

After holding a series of public meetings and receiving testimony from more than 100 witnesses, the Red Tape Review Group has issued its report, which includes recommendations for a major shakeup in the way the state conducts land-use planning. The bipartisan group, headed by Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, recommends relocating the State Planning Commission (SPC) and the Office of Smart Growth (OSG) from their current home in the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), to the Department of State, which is headed by the Lt. Governor.

From the report: “the Red Tape Review Group recognizes that the Office of Smart Growth and the State Planning Commission need to be strengthened. A transfer of their functions to the Department of State could serve to reinvigorate the planning functions of State Government, and ensure that planning activities complement job creation and retention, economic growth and investment.

As the report notes, moving and strengthening the SPC and OSG was an idea supported by stakeholders, including New Jersey Future, who felt that housing the SPC within DCA limited its ability to coordinate state government policy across different agencies around the State Plan. Indeed, the vision of the SPC as a policy coordinating body was explicitly cited in the report as a justification for the move: “Witnesses proposed that state planning should be used as a tool to align all levels of government behind a shared vision for future growth and preservation, as well as a means to streamline and coordinate regulations and focus capital spending.”

As with all recommendation reports, the true impact of its findings will depend on if and how they are implemented, which will be up to the Governor and the Legislature. Still, the findings of this report represent a major shift for the role of planning within state government, one that could lead to a newfound prominence for both the State Planning Commission and the Office of Smart Growth.

Stay tuned to Garden State Smart Growth for updates.

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