SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Planning Board has adopted an updated Housing Element of the Somerset County Master Plan that supersedes the original contained in the 1987 master plan.

“The plan focuses attention on the importance of preserving and rehabilitating existing housing stock and on neighborhood enhancements that improve community sustainability, resiliency and public health,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Patrick Scaglione, planning liaison. “The plan also recognizes the dynamic relationship between housing supply, quality of life and the strength of the economy, and encourages the integration of workforce housing opportunities into redevelopment and infill projects, which can act as a catalyst for community and economic revitalization.”

The new plan builds upon the Housing Trends Assessment Report prepared by the county Planning Division in 2016 and feedback received from municipalities and the public over the course of the past 12 months. 

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Planning Board Chairman Bernard Navatto Jr. describes the plan as a guide for informing land use and housing plans, programs, policies and regulations at the state, regional and local levels.  “It responds to the county’s growing and diversifying population by promoting the provision of a broad range of housing types at all levels of affordability, in inclusive neighborhoods and communities,” he said.

The updated plan includes new goals and objectives that promote the application of regional and local sustainability and resiliency principles in all land use and housing plans, policies, programs and investment decisions.  Related to these goals are a number of recommended implementation strategies, including but not limited to:

·        integrating green building standards, green infrastructure and pedestrian linkages into residential infill and redevelopment to improve quality of life, promote health and safety and support active lifestyles; 

·        allowing for higher densities and a mix of residential and commercial uses in Priority Growth Investment Areas that are already well-served by transportation and utilities; and

·        reducing risks and exposure to severe storms, flooding and other hazards by strengthening the housing stock, removing and keeping homes and residents out of harm way, and ensuring that critical communication, power and utility systems remain operational during times of crisis.   

The updated Housing element is available on the county website at more information, contact Planning Director Walter Lane, AICP/PP, or (908) 231-7021.