State Planning Rules
The New Jersey State Planning Act authorizes the State
Planning Commission to establish rules governing its administrative
procedures. The State Planning Rules are in Chapter 5:85
of the New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.). By adopting
the State Planning Rules, New Jersey joins the ranks of
“first” States to address growth and preservation in a
Statewide-planning document for municipalities and counties.
The State Planning Act (N.J.S.A. 52:18-196 et. seq.) defined
a process, entitled cross-acceptance. Cross-acceptance
on a statewide level involves extensive public participation
and corporation with our local partners, municipalities
and counties. In addition, the Act allows the State Planning
Commission (Commission) to collect, analyze, and synthesize
policies and implementation mechanisms into the creation
of the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment
Plan (State Plan). The Act specifies that the Commission
will create rules and regulations to define the process
of cross-acceptance and procedures for solicitation and
receipt of comments for the State Plan.
A brief review of this year’s changes to the State Planning
Rules demonstrates just how dynamic planning is in New
Jersey. The Rules took the legislative mandate for cross-acceptance,
“. . . a process of comparison of planning policies .
. . with the purpose of attaining compatibility . . .
(N.J.S.A. 52:18A-202(b)) and defined the procedural aspects.
The procedural aspects include several steps; first and
foremost the Commission must notify interested parties
and the counties of the Commission intent to begin revisions
to the State Plan. The next steps for the Commission is
to approval and distribute the Preliminary Plan with a
Cross-Acceptance Manual and conduct 21 County Informational
Meetings. The following steps represent an all inclusive
process between the State and the negotiating entity and
result in an opportunity to review technical reports highlighting
possible modifications for the Preliminary Plan in the
form of Cross-Acceptance Reports and an identification
of issues formalized in a Statement of Agreements and
Disagreements. The process also provides for an analyzing
the planning policies and scenarios (Impact Analysis &
Infrastructure Needs Assessment) to identify implementation
mechanisms for the State Plan. Lastly, through a variety
of public hearings, a new Final State Plan is approved.
This State Plan becomes the official blueprint for which
growth and preservation policies are decided on in New
The Commission also requested that further rule refinement
consider a mechanism that would effectively implement
the planning policies of the State Plan. This in turn
led to the Commission to establish Plan Endorsement. Plan
Endorsement is a voluntary process, that considers how
to ensure consistency of all local governmental plans
with the State Plan and to ensure a minimum level of State
technical assistance along with specified regulatory and
funding priority benefits. Plan endorsement has two stages.
The first stage, initial plan endorsement, allows petitioners
to submit to the Commission the fundamental planning documents,
such as the master plan. The second stage, advanced plan
endorsement, allows petitioners to submit more extensive
planning efforts; this stage is encouraged and not required.
The Commission continues to define and redefine the process
and procedural aspects of the preparation, revision, and
readoption of the State Plan through its State Planning
Rules to significantly enhance planning strategies for
the benefit of the citizens of New Jersey.