Rapidly changing regulatory standards and legislative initiatives have a tremendous impact on how the commercial real estate industry approaches development in the Garden State, noted panelists detailed at a recent NAIOP New Jersey event.
The experts, including N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, provided insight into what companies must do to ensure they are positioned to move forward.
Strategic areas of focus include the implementation of the NJPACT REAL (Resilient Environments and Landscapes) regulatory reform, which incorporates climate change considerations such as sea level rise into the state’s environmental land use regulations, including the Coastal Zone Management Rules, Flood Hazard Area Rules and Stormwater Management Rules.
LaTourette acknowledged that the new regulations will create new challenges.
“You will have our support and continued collaboration as we work through these challenges together,” he said.
Water resource issues, including emerging contaminants such as PFAS, are also a priority for the department, as is a review of the highly successful site remediation program – with the intention of accelerating the process for getting sites to closure, he said.
LaTourette said the agency is attempting to look forward.
“In many ways, our environmental laws are inherently backward looking – they grew out of a direct response to crises,” he said. “We are continuing our work to reorient our regulatory efforts in a more proactive, future-focused direction, so that we can ensure that the laws and regulations of yesteryear meet today’s challenges.”
Scot Murdock (partner at KSS Architects) and Anthony Pizzutillo (principal, Pizzutillo Public Affairs) said the community needs to work with state and elected officials.
“Working in advance with a town may avoid months of delays,” Murdock said. “We need to be willing to understand the community’s concerns and concede where needed. Being empathetic will be a key element of development in the future.”
Pizzutillo said the relationship needs to go further.
“It is incumbent on this industry to maintain a relationship with the legislature and make them aware of both the cost and benefit of any kind of community development,” he said.
Murdock added: “If we don’t control the narrative, it will get controlled for us.”