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TRENTON, NJ-One of the complaints about following the State of New Jersey’s growth management plan that focuses development on the state’s urban centers has been the regulatory morass. That’s been especially true when it comes to redeveloping brownfields sites.

The New Jersey Department of Environment Protection has taken a step toward making that process easier by establishing an Office of Brownfields, aimed at tying together some of the regulatory “loose strings” and getting the towns and the development community on the same page. The plan was announced last week by DEP assistant commissioner Evan Van Hook at a conference of the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

Van Hook also announced that DEP brownfields specialist Judith Shaw has been tapped to head the new office. In his words, “the new office will help communities plan for the remediation and reuse of multiple properties in a comprehensive way.” DEP officials estimate that there are more than 1,300 such sites around the state.

Van Hook also urged cities and developers to “look beyond commercial development” of such sites. He suggested that besides commercial properties, everything from residential complexes, to schools, to parks could be developed once site remediation is completed.

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