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HACKENSACK, NJ-The New Jersey Senate has joined the Assembly in passing a bill changing the name of the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission by dropping the word “Development.” The agency was formed by the state in 1969 with the two-pronged mission of repairing the 32 square miles of tidal marshes and mud flats of the Meadowlands after decades of legal and illegal dumping, and promoting commercial redevelopment of usable tracts within the defined area.

Environmentalists have said for years that the agency has been too pro-developer, and they like the idea of the change, suggesting it signals a new direction. According to HMC director Alan Steinberg, “the word ‘development’ has often caused people to have a misconception that we facilitate development at the expense of the environment.”

But the name change to Hackensack Meadowlands Commission is largely cosmetic, others say, because controlled development is still very much part of its mission. The agency has broad regulatory powers that supercede those of 14 communities that lie wholly or partly within the district’s borders, including portions of East Rutherford, Rutherford, North Arlington, Jersey City and Secaucus. Those powers include project approval, zoning, tax payment distribution and oversight of landfills.

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