Earlier today Governor Murphy enacted A-2785/S-2607 a bill that “Requires land use plan element of municipal master plan to include a climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment.”
The bill is an important and potentially useful one, but there are two things you should be aware of.
1) When your municipality does its next Master Plan update – or more specifically adopts “any land use plan element” after today (2/4/21) – it will need to address the provisions of the law. Because the law took effect immediately on signing, it affects any land use element currently under review and heading for adoption.
2) Because is is mandatory and would like cost additional money, there is a likely potential that it could be considered an unfunded state mandate, which if brought to the Council on State Mandates, could be voided.
The following are the provisions of what the law requires to be in the land use element (reformatted from the original to be readable):
…the land use plan element of a municipal master include a climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment. The assessment would:
(1) analyze current and future threats to, and vulnerabilities of, the municipality associated with climate change-related natural hazards;
(2) include a build-out analysis of future residential, commercial, industrial, and other development in the municipality, and an assessment of the threats and vulnerabilities identified in (1) above related to that development;
(3) identify critical facilities, utilities, roadways, and other infrastructure that is necessary for evacuation purposes and for sustaining quality of life during a natural disaster, to be maintained at all times in an operational state;
(4) analyze the potential impact of natural hazards on relevant components and elements of the master plan;
(5) provide strategies and design standards that may be implemented to reduce or avoid risks associated with natural hazards;
(6) include a specific policy statement on the consistency, coordination, and integration of the climate-change related hazard vulnerability assessment with certain other plans adopted by the municipality; and
(7) rely on the most recent natural hazard projections and best available science provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The law also requires DEP to provide technical assistance, as practicable, to a municipality preparing a climate change related hazard vulnerability assessment.
Clearly, the intent is an important one. The execution may be more challenging than the sponsors expect. A discussion with your planning folks is likely in order to assess the impact.
I’ve attached a copy of the bill that passed, more or less along party lines in both houses. It’s now P.L. 2021, c.6.
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