Is ANJEC a state or local government agency?

ANJEC is a private non-profit educational organization. Our mission is to promote the public interest in natural resource protection, reclamation and sustainable development and to support environmental commissions working with community officials and concerned citizens. Our programs are funded through grants from foundations, memberships and contributions and contracts with the state of New Jersey.

Development and Open Space

How can ANJEC help us protect open space in our community?

There’s this beautiful meadow, forest, wetlands and/or stream that is very special and should be preserved for future generations.

If your town has an environmental commission, we’ll put you in contact with the chair. Local environmental commissions are generally well informed on open space preservation techniques. Whether there’s a commission or not, the ANJEC Resource Center will also provide you with information and contacts on local, state and non-profit programs for open space protection and funding as well as advice and guidance.

How can ANJEC help us stop our municipality from approving an enormous, horrible development that will destroy a special place in our community?

If your town has an environmental commission, we’ll put you in contact with the chair. Local environmental commissions are generally well-informed about local ordinances and involved in development review through their representation on the Planning Board. If the proposed development is consistent with the town’s zoning and development ordinances (for example restrictions on development on steep slopes), it will probably be very difficult to stop. The ANJEC Resource Center will provide guidance, information and contacts to help you force the developer and the municipality to address any inconsistencies or special circumstances (like endangered species habitat, wetlands and tree preservation) that should be addressed.

Environmental Commissions

Our commission was just established a few months ago. What should we be doing?

A Commission’s first job should be to put together an Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI), a document that uses maps and text to describe the municipality’s most important natural resources, for example geology, soils, rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs, aquifers, farms and f orests, wetlands, wildlife habitat, public open space. The ANJEC Resource Center can help with training, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) computer mapping, and suggestions for funding the study. The ERI will help the Commission and the municipality identify important areas for preservation whether through acquisition or regulation. It can be a very helpful tool in gaining support from local officials and citizens for preservation.

How can I contact the environmental commission in my municipality?

You can call your Town Hall and ask for the name and phone number of the chair or contact the ANJEC Resource Center at 973-539-7547 or resourcecenter@anjec.org.

I'd like to serve on my municipality's environmental commission. How can I become a member?

Under state law, the mayor appoints all environmental commission members to staggered three-year terms. Contact the commission chair to see if there are any openings. Attend commission meetings, get to know the current members and the issues. Offer your services to help the commission on a specific project. Let the chair, the mayor and anyone you might know on the government body know that you are interested in becoming a commission member.

My town doesn't have an environmental commission. How can I get one started?

To establish an environmental commission, the governing body needs to pass an ordinance using the state enabling legislation (N.J.S.A. 40:56A et seq). So you’ll need to have the support of the mayor and a majority of the members of your municipality’s governing body. The ANJEC Resource Center will provide you with sample ordinances from other municipalities that have commissions as well as information on the benefits of having an environmental commission, and advice on ways to get the information out. It is very important to build a constituency for a commission among citizens in your community.

What's the difference between and Environmental Commission and an Environmental Committee?

Generally an Environmental Commission is established by ordinance. This means that if for some reason the governing body decides to abolish the Commission, it has to pass another ordinance — which requires public notice and a public hearing and provides an opportunity for citizens to support the Commission’s continued existence.

Under the state enabling legislation (N.J.S.A. 56A et seq), a member of the Environmental Commission also sits on the Planning Board. Given the power of municipalities to control land use through zoning and development review, the Commission’s seat on the Planning Board offers an opportunity to gain support for strict environmental standards, a Master Plan and zoning ordinances that incorporate open space and natural resource preservation.
Environmental Committees are usually ad hoc groups appointed by the governing body on a yearly basis. So, a majority of the governing body can abolish the Committee or appoint a whole new group of members, by resolution with no public notice and no public hearing. Environmental Committees generally have no representation on the Planning Board.

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