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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: New Jersey

Hoboken South Waterfront
Smart Project Restores Waterfront
Ramapo Reserve
Trophy Houses Move Mountain

Hoboken South Waterfront
Smart Project Restores Waterfront

East Coast cities often have beautiful coastal areas that are marred by abandoned industrial land. But Hoboken is doing something about it: A 526-unit housing and retail development proposed for the city's waterfront will open up public access to this historic coastal area.

Hoboken: The Hoboken South Waterfront development combines all the elements of smart growth - mixed-use development, new green spaces and public transportation.

In a location immortalized in the movie "On the Waterfront," the plan combines all the elements of smart growth -- mixed-use development, new green spaces, public transportation and community involvement. Residents will be able to live and work within the project, or use the nearby light rail or PATH train to commute to jobs in Hoboken's center, other parts of New Jersey or New York City. In addition, the project offers easy access to bus and ferry service.

The project is also well located. Adjacent to a college and with access to libraries, government buildings and a community center, residents can stay involved without driving all around town. The streets inside Hoboken South Waterfront are also designed to be pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly. Crosswalks, lights and wide sidewalks make travel on foot enjoyable, while amenities for bikes -- including bike lanes and bike racks -- will make cycling easier and safer.

Of course, with beautiful places to recreate and relax, residents may not want to leave home. Where there is currently concrete and asphalt, the plan envisions new open space that will link up with the proposed greenway along the Hudson River. Furthermore, the designers are working to catch stormwater and construction-site runoff to protect the area's watershed.

Ramapo Reserve
Trophy Houses Move Mountain

The Ramapo Mountains used to be known for hiking trails, trout-filled streams and pre-Columbian archaeological sites. Now the mountains are marred by 400 townhouses on 300 acres of blasted ledges.

Ramapo Reserve, as the project is known, should never have happened. The area in question had been on New Jersey's Green Acres acquisition list since before the development took place. After a bruising court battle, local public officials allowed the development to go forward, arguing that the court decision made this necessary. But the real motivation was likely extra tax revenue.

This project exemplifies all the problems of sprawling growth. First, by placing homes on pads blasted into the mountain, the builder practically guaranteed that possibly polluted runoff would pour off the steep slopes into a river that serves as a water supply. Second, the development's "pioneering" status as the first building site west of the Ramapo River violated existing natural boundaries and will place incredible pressure on the natural resources in the area. Third, only the wealthy will have access to these homes. At prices from the mid-$200,000 range to over $2.5 million, "Ramapo Reserve" can in no way be considered affordable. And finally, because of the isolated location and lack of public transportation, the development will force residents into their cars for even the most limited errands.

In exchange for a few luxury homes in an isolated and car-dependent community, the developers destroyed greenways, turned trout streams into steel pipes, carved away parts of the Ramapo Mountains and caused other severe environmental damage.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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