NAIOP Public Policy Symposium: Leaders emphasize importance of smart development

When it comes to ensuring New Jersey’s current and future prosperity, smart development and collaboration “across the aisle” were shared priorities among the legislative decision-makers who spoke at NAIOP New Jersey’s recent Public Policy Symposium. The annual program was held at the Northeast Carpenters Apprentice Training Center in Edison.

Keynote speaker Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, chief of staff to Gov. Phil Murphy, outlined the administration’s current and emerging policies. She cited the recent reauthorization of the Transportation Trust Fund as a critical step for the Governor’s Office and the state, underscoring the vital importance of New Jersey’s transportation system in every aspect of life and business.

The governor’s “tax on everything” proposal — which would impose a new excise fee on trucks delivering goods to warehouses throughout the state — was top of mind for the audience, legislators and the keynote speaker. Gutierrez-Scaccetti said that funding would be used for studies on truck routing, “the key to making warehouse development work.”

The state budget, which includes the controversial proposal, was among the policy challenges addressed by legislative leadership during a conversation moderated by NAIOP NJ CEO Dan Kennedy. Participating in the discussion were Assembly Speaker Craig  Coughlin (D-Woodbridge), Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown), Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-Westwood), Republican conference leader, and Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus), chair of the Senate Labor Committee.

While echoing the importance of reauthorizing the TTF, the legislative panelists expressed differing views on the authorization process, while agreeing that the “buck a truck” proposal did not seem viable. There also was a consensus on the need for development, with an emphasis on making sure it is smart development.

Kennedy noted, “Our panelists made it clear that they are committed to working together to address critical challenges that are likely to have a huge impact, not only on the commercial real estate industry, but on businesses and communities statewide.”

Improving the power grid to sustain any government mandate toward electric buildings — and ways this might be accomplished — was a key topic during the program’s energy and decarbonization panel discussion. Stevens & Lee Public Affairs Vice President Bob Gordon, a former New Jersey senator and former New Jersey Board of Public Utilities commissioner, moderated the conversation among Erick Ford, vice president, Stevens & Lee Public Affairs; Zoe Baldwin, vice president, state programs, Regional Planning Association; and Mark Schottinger, president and chief legal officer, Solar Landscape.

Gordon emphasized the significance of the moment for commercial real estate, given that the state’s new Energy Master Plan is being developed in 2024.

“It is important that NAIOP New Jersey and other industry leaders have a unified voice in order to help shape solutions with predictability that are both realistic and actionable,” he said.