Legislation Incorporates Recommendations from July 2015 Task Force Report
Legislation Assembly Democrats Wayne P. DeAngelo, Cleopatra Tucker, Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak, Herb Conaway and Sgt. Bruce Land sponsored to prevent land use conflicts due to civilian development near military bases was approved by the General Assembly on Thursday. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
The bill (A-2518) would require the Military and Defense Economic Ombudsman to communicate with installation commanders and representatives of the state, counties and municipalities to minimize land use conflicts between installations and local governments’ planning units. It also would require the land use plan element of municipal master plans to show existing and proposed locations of military facilities and to incorporate strategies to minimize undue encroachment upon military installations.
The measure incorporates recommendations from the July 2015 Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force report. The task force was created by executive order upon the urging of the New Jersey Council on Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs, on which DeAngelo serves.
“The symbiotic relationship between military facilities and the surrounding communities is critical to the success of our state’s military installations,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We saw the impact that the closure of Fort Monmouth had on the state. Implementing the task force’s recommendations and eliciting the input of commanders can ensure that another base closure does not happen here.”
“What happens on New Jersey’s military installations has a significant impact on the surrounding regions, and vice versa,” said Tucker (D-Essex), chair of Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Rather than competing for land use and resources, municipalities and military installations ought to communicate and reach agreements that minimize encroachment.”
“The goal of this legislation is to ensure that communities surrounding installations and members of the military on the bases don’t run into conflict simply because of a lapse in communication,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), an Army veteran who served in Iraq. “Giving both commanders and government officials a seat at the table during the planning process can help resolve any existing land use problems and avoid future conflicts altogether.”
“When civilian land use limits operations on a military installation, it opens the door to adverse effects on national defense as well as our state’s economy,” said Conaway (D-Burlington), who served in the Air Force Medical Corps. “This legislation will help balance military and civilian interests so that our state compromises neither the capabilities of it installations nor the quality of life for adjacent communities.”
“The insights of commanders can go a long way toward avoiding conflicts with neighboring communities,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. “By making sure that their voices will be heard, New Jersey can promote land use compatibility and the viability of military installations.”
New Jersey’s military installations provide 45,631 direct jobs and 27,603 indirect jobs, according to the report. The bases add $6.5 billion of wealth to the state’s gross domestic product and create $9.6 billion in business revenues.
The five military installations located throughout New Jersey are: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington and Ocean counties; Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County; United States Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County; Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic County; and United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May County.
The measure gained unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature.