The goals of the TOGETHER NORTH JERSEY regional planning process are to:
- Strengthen the region’s economic base by growing jobs in key industry sectors and leveraging existing assets, including existing workforce, port/airport, etc.
- Align existing plans, programs, and regulations to support economic growth
- Improve transportation connections and choices to better link where people live with where they need to go
- Focus residential and employment growth in areas with existing infrastructure (including transit service) to reduce future costs at all levels of government
- Engage a broad spectrum of the public, businesses, local government officials and other interested parties to develop locally defined long-term planning goals for the region
The process to develop the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD) will include a variety of technical work activities and extensive public outreach to residents, businesses, local government officials, state agencies, community-based organizations and other non-governmental, public and private sector interests. The work plan for this grant will be executed in three primary phases as follows:
- PHASE 1 – Project initiation. This phase will include introductory briefings on the project; developing a comprehensive public involvement strategy, establishing the Consortium and inviting jurisdictions, agencies and organizations to become members; establishing and convening the Consortium Steering Committee; creating a Local Government Capacity Grant program; creating a program to provide small grants to non-governmental organizations wishing to participate in the planning process; creating a Local Demonstration Projects program; and developing a Consortium communications strategy.
- PHASE 2 – Plan Development. During Phase 2, the focus will be on conducting public outreach and completing the technical work necessary to develop the RPSD. As shown in Figure 2 and described below, activities will follow three key steps:
- Step 1: Where are we now and where are we headed? This step will include: Steering Committee meetings; establishing and convening the Consortium’s standing committees and partnership groups; conducting public workshops and meetings; documenting existing conditions in the twelve topic areas to be covered in the RPSD; evaluating trends to identify where the region is heading if there are no changes to existing plans, policies and programs; assessing the region’s strengths and weaknesses; identifying issues and concerns about the region’s future; and identifying the goals and long-term outcomes most important to residents, businesses, government officials and others in the region.
- Step 2: Where do we want to go? This step will include: Steering Committee meetings; standing committee and partnership group meetings; public workshops and meetings; evaluation of future regional development alternatives; and selection of a preferred alternative to guide plans, policies and programs.
- Step 3: How do we get there? This step will include: Steering Committee meetings; standing committee meetings; public workshops and meetings; identifying specific strategies and actions for: a) aligning plans; b) addressing regulatory and other impediments to implementation; c) providing incentives; and d) prioritizing/leveraging infrastructure and other investments to achieve the region’s goals and long-term outcomes.
- PHASE 3 – Plan presentation and finalization. This phase will include: Steering Committee meetings; standing committee meetings; public presentation of the draft RPSD for additional comment; revision of the draft RPSD to reflect comments; and presentation of a final RPSD for endorsement by the Consortium Steering Committee.
To the maximum extent possible, the process to develop the RPSD will be designed to complement planning activities anticipated to be part of implementing the State Strategic Plan at the county level, updating NJTPA’s Regional Transportation Plan and on-going county/municipal planning initiatives including initiatives to develop Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies. In carrying out the work plan for this grant, the Project Team will work closely with jurisdictions, NJOPA, NJTPA and others as needed to: coordinate public outreach and engagement activities; identify priority investment and preservation areas; map supportive infrastructure; and identify indicators that can be used to track progress toward stated planning goals.