TRENTON – Sen. Jim Whelan, (D-2), of Atlantic City has introduced a bill that would make two towns in his district eligible for a Pinelands development rights incentive program.
The bill, S3017, would amend the 1979 Pinelands comprehensive management plan to include Atlantic City and Pleasantville in a list of municipalities eligible for Pinelands Development Credits (PDCs).
PDCs enable developers to place more residential units on a property where construction is allowed, building as much as 50 percent more units than would normally be permitted by zoning.
Whelan said both municipalities still have ample room for additional residential development, and it only makes sense to include them as being eligible for PDCs.
“Both of those towns have expressed the desire for more residential development,” Whelan said in a telephone interview. “It’s a smart growth approach to bringing development where the infrastructure already exists.”
The credits provide compensation to landowners for transferring their development rights, enabling the developers to build more residential units in specific areas where development is allowed.
For example, in an 8-acre residential lot where no more than eight homes would normally be allowed for construction, PDCs would enable the developer to shoehorn 12 homes onto that same property. Or, if 20 homes were allowed to be built on a 10-acre lot, PDCs could give developers the ability to build as many as 30 homes within the property’s borders.
Whelan said he decided to introduce the bill because he would like to see it become law, adding that similar bills have come up before but never got far enough in the legislative process to become law.
“It’s an idea that’s been out there for a while,” he said.
He denied the bill has anything to do with what’s expected to be a competitive re-election battle against his Republican opponent, Assemblyman Vincent Polistina, saying the bill will have little impact on the campaign.
“It’s (the bill) not going to pass before the election,” he said.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, described S3017 as a good bill, saying it will prevent Pinelands-area towns from rampant over-development, moving it to areas that could accommodate more growth. In an email, Tittel said he worked on a similar bill with former Republican state Sen. Bill Gormley.
“There is plenty of room in A.C. on the north end and near Bader Field and Pleasantville has plenty of vacant land,” he said.