2007-01-09, 11:06

Is mixed use the answer to New Jersey's sprawl problem?

By: Jonathan Groner
An op-ed a couple of days ago (Jan. 7, 2007) in the Asbury Park Press raises the argument that New Jersey's suburban sprawl problem can be fixed by the judicious building of mixed-use communities -- what the author, a developer, calls Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND).

Ralph Zucker, the author of the op-ed, is president of Somerset Development, which is building Wesmont Station, a 737-home development in Bergen County, N.J., not far from New York City.

"TND helps solve the traffic problem by getting cars off the road," Zucker writes. "By concentrating development, TNDs create walkable neighborhoods. Instead of getting in their cars, residents can walk to visit friends. They can also walk to the dry cleaner or the video store. Mixed-use development -- retail, office and residential uses co-existing in one location -- is another hallmark of traditional neighborhood design. TNDs also get cars off the road by providing a market for mass transit."

Zucker adds, "Town homes and apartments, duplexes and single-family colonials -- all are part of the TND vision, which emphasizes offering a variety of housing types for a variety of incomes.
Wesmont Station will even offer housing for merchants above their stores -- a form of housing that hasn't been commonplace in several generations."

As I've said before, some of the appeal of mixed use involves a nostalgia for old-time small-town America, where neighbors would chat on their front porches, where people would walk to the grocery or dry cleaner, and where store owners would live above the shop.

The full New Jersey story can be found at http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20070107&Category=OPINION&ArtNo=701070330&SectionCat=&Template=printart.

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