Okay, so maybe I’ve been a little too optimistic about development in New Jersey. After such a horrendous downturn nationwide, it’s just been so easy to crow about new development, given recent surveys about healthcare, debates about permitting for new retail, etc.

But now comes word that both houses of the New Jersey Legislature postponed votes on a two-year addition to the Permit Extension Act, though the Assembly will vote. The measure would extend permits scheduled to expire by December 31, 2012 to December 31, 2014. Extensions had been approved in 2008 and 2010, but those excluded environmentally sensitive areas. This time, the act does include the Highlands region in the northwestern section of the state.

Environmentalists have claimed that building near the Highlands could affect the drinking water for millions of people, and more study is needed. (The Pinelands, in the southern part of the state, also is included.)

Oddly enough, I’m actually writing this on a family trip in Kauai, where building also is limited – nothing over four stories is allowed any longer, even as new housing divisions and golf courses are springing up near the ocean (start your hate mail now – I can take it).  And nowhere is more sensitive to the environment than Hawaii, which is at least 2,000 miles from any major land mass (thus, $4.67 for a gallon of gas).  Yet they seem to have figured it out – there are solar panels on residential roofs, permits are controlled but development still takes place.

So let’s hope New Jersey finds the balance, too. Aloha!