Thursday, February 28, 2013

Would NJ Highlands protection law pass if voted today?

The regional rancor in northwest New Jersey that followed the enactment of the Highlands Protection Act in 2004 still smolders.and a single remark can spark a flareup.

Richard A. Vohden
Sussex County Deputy Freeholder Director Richard Vohden lit the match Wednesday night when, at a freeholder's meeting, he asserted that, were the vote held today, state lawmakers would not approve the law that limits development in a 415, 000-acre area stretching over seven counties.    

"If these senators today would take the same vote, I don't think it would pass," he said.

Vohden characterized the Highlands Law as "unfunded, unworkable and incomplete," writes New Jersey Herald reporter Rob Jennings.

Referring to the devaluing of property values for those unable to subdivide or sell due to the law, Vohden said, "If that's not a ‘taking,' I don't know what a taking is."

The remark brought a quick response from NJ Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel whose organization opposed Vohden's nomination by Governor Chris Christie to the Highlands Council. Vohden took the seat in January 2012 after being confirmed by a 29-7 vote in the state Senate.

"He's supposed to enforce the law. He's showing his personal bias," Tittel said.

What do you think?  Was the Highlands law a mistake?  Is it working? What does the future hold?Share your thoughts in the opinion box below. If one is not visible, activate it by clicking on the tiny 'comments' line.

Related environmental news stories and videos:

Highlands law wouldn't pass today, Vohden says 
Highlands Council pushing program that would compensate landowners 
Caldwell Council Supports Highlands Watershed 
NJ Highlands Council Fires Exec Swan; Deputy Resigns 
NJ enviro groups' billboard: Here's looking at you, DEP
Assemblyman John McKeon discusses the environment

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