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TRENTON, NJ-Companion bills A-3504 and S-2080, aimed at stifling big-box retail projects, have apparently been pulled from the docket in the New Jersey legislature in the face of severe criticism and other issues. According to sources, the heaviest criticism has come from the building trades unions, which are still smarting from legislation passed earlier this year that all but shuts down development in the Highlands watershed region in the northwestern part of the state.

As reported by GlobeSt.com last week, the twin bills target so-called “superstore retailers,” single stores or collections of stores of more than 130,000 sf selling more than 25,000 SKUs. Such properties would be subject to a more rigorous approval process, including regional economic impact studies, and communities would essentially be given veto power over projects proposed for neighboring towns.

The bills were modeled after legislation in California aimed at slowing Wal-Mart’s growth in that state. According to a source, the New Jersey legislation was specifically aimed at a Wal-Mart development in Deptford, NJ, and “although that issue was resolved, the bill went forward.”

Apparently because of criticism from the building trades unions, as well as from real estate developers who had already started to work against it through lobbyists, the two State Senate sponsors “have pulled the bill for revision,” according to the source. “It seems there were also constitutional issues to be addressed. The legislation may re-surface in January, but in a rather different form.”

The State Senate version was sponsored by Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat from South Jersey whose district includes Deptford, and Thomas H. Kean, a Republican from Union County and son of the former governor. The Assembly version has a half-dozen sponsors and co-sponsors.

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