Tools to Prevent Harm

  1. The Highlands bill sets up a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program, like that currently used in the New Jersey Pinelands, Burlington County, NJ, and Montgomery County, MD, among other places. [§15]

    1. The Highlands Planning Council is required to recommend "receiving zones."

    2. The Highlands Planning Council is also to recommend "capacity" in the receiving zones, meaning that it will make recommendations on increased density in these places.

    3. The location of receiving zones and the development densities within them, however, are not binding on municipalities. As if to emphasize this point, the Highlands bill repeatedly uses the phrase "voluntary receiving zones."

    4. Instead of mandates, the legislation provides incentives to induce municipalities outside of the preservation area to create receiving zones. The rewards for creating a receiving zone include:

      1. A $250,000 planning grant

      2. Reimbursement of the costs of amending regulations to create the zone

      3. Authorization to impose development impact fees up to twice the standard fee

      4. Legal assistance if sued

      5. Priority status for state infrastructure spending

    5. A slightly smaller list of rewards is available to municipalities that create receiving zones outside of the Highlands Region.

  2. The Highlands bill creates a Highlands Municipal Property Tax Stabilization Board that makes recommendations to the state on the amount of property tax revenues that are lost as a result of building restrictions in the preservation area. These lost revenues are then paid to each municipality by the State Treasurer.

    1. Highlands Property Tax Stabilization will be funded by dedicated realty transfer fee revenue.

    2. Some of the new dedicated realty transfer fee revenue will be put into a "Pinelands Property Tax Assistance Fund" for property tax assistance to municipalities in the Pinelands region.

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences