Developing Transit Villages in New Jersey
Promotion of TOD in New Jersey has been a concerted effort of the Department of Transportation and New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) through the Transit Village Program (TVP) and the Transit-Friendly Planning Program, respectively. The Planning Program offers technical assistance from NJ Transit’s planning consultants to develop TOD plans, which can assist communities in qualifying for TVP designation.
The two transportation agencies lead a smart growth partnership (with nine other state agencies) known as the Transit Village Initiative. The TVP has been in effect since 1999, and 17 communities have been designated as Transit Villages. The program is intended to revitalize communities around transit facilities, and exemplifies smart growth principles by encouraging growth where infrastructure and public transit already exist. Two other primary program goals are reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality through greater use of transit.
The defined Transit Village criteria determine whether a municipality is ready for designation, including:
- An adopted land-use strategy (through a plan or zoning ordinance) to achieve compact, transit-supportive, mixed-use development within walking distance of transit service.
- A bicycle and pedestrian focus.
- Communities must have vacant land and/or underutilized or deteriorated buildings within walking distance of the transit facility.
- Projects should support local arts and culture and the historic and architectural integrity of the community.
- Projects must have an affordable housing component.
- Projects must be ready-to-go and be able to be completed in three years.
TRID is applicable statewide, and may be designated by a local government in any geographic area or neighborhood, including vacant, underutilized or potentially redevelopable land located around a commuter rail, light rail, busway or similar transit service stop or station. Planned new stations or stops, in conjunction with a planned transit service, are also eligible (as defined on adopted local, county, regional or public transit agency plans).
The TRID planning study provides the rationale for TRID designation, including amendment of the municipal (and county) comprehensive plan. A TRID does not become effective until completion of the planning study, the required public involvement activities and acceptance of study recommendations by the local governing body and cooperating transit agency. The scope and scale of proposed transit and community facility improvements and any support facilities are also determined in the planning study.
TRID implementation is governed by a management entity (such as an authority) established by the partnering government(s) and agencies, through a development agreement specifying the responsibilities of each participant. Participating transit agencies are authorized to acquire and improve property for defined real estate development activities, provided such land is the minimum necessary to accomplish a TRID planning study’s objectives for a designated TRID area, coordinated with the pertinent county or municipal redevelopment authority (as applicable).
Through designation of the TRID boundaries, a coterminous Value Capture Area is created that enables the local jurisdiction(s) and transit agency to share the incremental new real estate or other designated tax revenues generated by subsequent real estate investment. The participating transit agency may use such revenues to accomplish specific activities or projects described in the development agreement and the TRID plan, but only within the TRID area.
Although grant funding was not included in the Act, for Fiscal Year 2006, the General Assembly directed DCED to provide up to $500,000 from their existing planning program for TRID planning grants. Subsequently, six projects (with a maximum grant of $75,000 and a 25 percent match requirement) were approved; PennDOT funded a seventh project directly. These plans will be underway this year. However, a funding source for Fiscal Year 2007 has not yet been defined, and it is unclear whether either department will provide discretionary funding for additional planning studies at this time.