Pinelands Development Changes Proposed!
For the first time in 28 years, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission is considering realignment of Pinelands zoning boundaries.
The Pinelands National Reserve in New Jersey was created by Congress under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. It is the first National Reserve in the nation and covers more than 1 million acres in 7 NJ counties.
In 1979, under the guidance then Governor Brendan Byrne, the Pinelands Preservation Act was adopted. It’s a state and federal partnership to preserve, protect and enhance the natural and cultural resources of the Pine Barrens. All or parts of 56 New Jersey municipalities are in the Pinelands National Reserve and are subject to Pinelands Commission regulations.
While the proposed changes to the land use maps will not draw the debate witnessed in 1979, which pitted builders and property owners against environmentalists, there are likely to be some disagreements.
According to the Pinelands Commission most of the proposed changes would affect the borders between forest area – the second most restrictive area – and rural development areas, where more construction and land uses are allowed.
The possible changes in Ocean County are considered minor and would be made mostly around land already purchased for conservation and cooperatively rezoned for less growth by the Commission and municipal officials. One of those areas is Cloverdale Farm in Barnegat.
Atlantic County, on the other hand, might see thousands of acres in Egg Harbor Township and Hamilton Township (Mays Landing) converted to the strictly regulated forest area from rural development and regional growth area.
The inner core of the Preservation area will not change, as outlined in the NJ Pinelands Preservation Act of 1979.
The maps of the proposed changes are available and public hearings are expected early next year (2009).
The Worldwide Importance of the NJ Pinelands…
This internationally important ecological region is 1.1 million acres in size and occupies 22% of New Jersey's land area. It is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston and is its aquifers contain 17 trillion gallons of some of the purest water in the land.
In 1983 the area was designated a U.S. Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO an agency of the United Nations and in 1988 it was recognized as a International Biosphere Reserve.
Today, with the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, the region is protected in a manner that maintains its unique ecology while permitting compatible development.
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