Study: NJ Land-Use Patterns Increase Exclusionary Zoning and Sprawl

All too often, we hear how sprawl development continues to eat up the last remaining open spaces across New Jersey, and residents continue to express confusion about how this keeps happening.

One look at local zoning ordinances, though, and it becomes obvious that municipalities are getting exactly what they are asking for — a steady procession of large-lot subdivisions that gobble up land, increase infrastructure costs and push housing out of the reach of more and more people.

A new study by Rowan University’s Geospatial Research Laboratory documents the cumulative effect of these local zoning decisions: a land-use pattern that has grown substantially more exclusionary and sprawling over the last two decades. The study, titled Evidence of Persistent Exclusionary Effects of Land Use Policy within Historic and Projected Development Patterns in New Jersey, also concluded that the preponderance of zoning in place today that favors large residential lots puts New Jersey on track to a future of further sprawl and housing segregation.

Tim Evans is research director at New Jersey Future, a not-for-profit land-use policy research and advocacy organization.


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