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TRENTON, NJ-Earlier this year, the administration of former Gov. James McGreevey pushed through a sweeping bill that essentially banned new development in thousands of acres of Highlands watershed land in northwestern New Jersey. To get enough votes in the legislature to get the bill through, the McGreevey administration also pushed through a bill facilitating the permitting process in areas of the state targeted for development.

Environmentalists cried foul, and now the fast-track permitting legislation is the subject of a bill introduced in the senate and assembly which, if passed, would repeal it. The senate version has been introduced by Sen. Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer County), and Sen. Leonard Lane (R-Hunterdon County). The latter is the body’s minority leader.

“It’s important that this process be started all over again,” Turner says. In the meantime, an assembly version has been introduced and a total of 18 sponsors have signed on to the two versions.

Implementation of the fast-track permitting legislation had already been put on hold for seven months by McGreevey, as one of the last acts of his tenure. He resigned his office in mid-November in the wake of several scandals and revelations of a gay extramarital affair.

Acting Gov. Richard Codey, who is also president of the state senate, has stated publicly that he is against an outright repeal of the fast-track permitting bill, but that as the legislation stands, “it needs fixing.”

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