Green Infrastructure (Land Use)

During stormwater review, green infrastructure techniques are required under the stormwater regulations. Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) is an approach to manage stormwater either on-site, or close to a developed site that mimics natural processes by soaking up and storing water.  ANJEC has  a Green Infrastructure tool kit for Municipalities that includes two resource papers:  Long Term Control Plans, Stream Daylighting and Combined Sewer Overflow Programs,  and Green Infrastructure Design and Options.

Additional website resources on GSI can be found below:

Green Buildings (Land Use)

NJ has a robust green building program and resources are available for municipal officials to upgrade municipal properties.  Municipalities should consider adding a green building and sustainability plan to their Master Plan.  The Sustainability Element of the Master Plan seeks to encourage and promote the efficient use of natural resources and the installation and usage of renewable energy systems; consider the impact of buildings on the local, regional and global environment; allow ecosystems to function naturally; conserve and reuse water; treat stormwater on-site; and optimize climatic conditions through site orientation and design.

In 2019, Rutgers Center for Green Building updated  The New Jersey Green Building Manual (NJGBM), a resource tailored for New Jersey providing economic and environmental best practices across the spectrum of green building categories including energy, emissions, water, waste, siting, transportation, and human health. The Manual comprises Commercial and Residential sections with best practices strategies applicable to new and existing buildings.

Site Plan Review (Land Use)

The environmental commission has both the legal authority and the responsibility for taking part in the site plan review process.  The enabling legislation states that an environmental commission has responsibility for “the protection, development or use of natural resources, including water resources, located within its territorial limits”  and if a municipality has an Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI) or Natural Resource Inventory (NRI)  then a copy of every application for development must be submitted to the EC for review.  In addition, the Municipal Land Use Law requires that a member of the environmental commission be a member of the planning board.  More information about Site Plan review can be found here or in the ANJEC Commissioners handbook.

Critical Areas (Land Use)

Critical Areas such as stream corridors and floodplains, wetlands, steep slopes, high acid or erodible soils, mature stands of trees, aquifer recharge and discharge areas, unique natural features and critical wildlife habitats should be indicated and mapped in the Municipal Environmental Resource Inventory.

Affordable Housing (Land Use)

Communities throughout New Jersey must comply with the affordable housing rules, stipulated by the Fair Hosing Act (amended 2008) to provide through its land use regulations a realistic opportunity for a fair share of its region’s present and prospective needs for housing for low and moderate income families.

Environmental commissions can help municipalities comply with its obligations without straining natural resources and be a champion for building sustainable affordable housing see “Sustainable Housing for All” article in ANJEC Winter 2020 Report.   The NJ Housing and Finance Agency (NJHMFA) also champions energy efficiency and green building practices through its Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program.

Currently the determination of affordable housing obligations are administered by the Court as the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) once the primary jurisdiction for administering housing obligations was divested of its jurisdiction in 2015.

Threatened Species (Flora & Fauna)

Endangered Species are those whose prospects for survival are in immediate danger because of a loss or change in habitat, over-exploitation, predation, competition, disease, disturbance or contamination.

Threatened Species are those who may become endangered if conditions surrounding them begin to or continue to deteriorate.

NJDEP maintains a database of Threatened and Endangered (T&E) Species in NJ. If you spot a T&E, you can report it to DEP to be added to the database, click here for the form and submission instructions:

Native Wildlife (Flora & Fauna)

Native wildlife including pollinator species that farmers, gardeners and all rely on need conservation and care. Providing habitat and food sources is important and can be done on the local level. The NJ State Wildlife Action Plan was revised in 2018 as a strategic and cost-effective strategy for preserving the states wildlife resources for the future.  The plan identifies species of greatest conservation need as well as 107 focal species that are of the highest conservation priority.  The complete plan can be downloaded here.

Native Vegetation (Flora & Fauna)

Native plants, trees and shrubs help conserve and filter water, provide habitat for native wildlife, protect soil resources, and reduce the costs and environmental impacts associated with fertilizers and pesticides.  Native vegetation is needed to support the ecosystem and helps keep invasives at bay.  Replacing or adding native vegetation whenever possible is something Environmental Commissions can be advocating for in their communities.  The Native Plant Society of NJ  and Jersey Friendly Yards have many resources available about native plants.   A brochure about Native Plants can be found here

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