|Browns Point on Greenwood Lake, West Milford, N.J
The Highlands Act & Economic Growth
Tourism is a major component to N.J's economy. It is the second largest industry in the state, accounting
for extensive revenue and tourism related jobs.
West Milford, N.J is well positioned to take advantage
of a significant tourism market. The Highlands Region, located within this market, is within a days drive of over 20 million
Part 8 of the Highlands Act focuses on Sustainable Economic Development. Under Part 8, the Highlands
Act establishes natural resource protection as well as recognizes that development, redevelopment and economic growth in certain
appropriate areas of the region are in the best interest of all the citizens of the State. In the Highlands Region, economic
development plans can be developed for municipalities that choose to grow and those that choose not to; individual economic
development activities will vary based on local conditions but all will contribute to achieving regional economic vitality.
In some areas, the sustainable use of the natural resources of the region, such as agriculture, forestry, and tourism will
remain a critical local economic initiative, while other areas may be well suited for technology dependent enterprises ranging
from homes to corporate headquarters. Main street or downtown revitalization and business retention efforts may be the primary
economic initiative for some municipalities. Economic development must be sustainable over time and will depend heavily on
renewal and improvement of economic output without continual development of undeveloped lands.
Part 8: Sustainable Economic Development
The Highlands Region
is characterized by a dynamic economy that exhibits it's strength relative to the State as a whole. A challenge facing many
communities in the Highlands Region is determining how best to balance resource protection requirements while maintaining
and enhancing a vibrant community and a sustainable local and regional economy. The Highlands Act establishes water and natural
resource protection as the fundamental goal for the region, but also recognizes the many social, cultural and economic benefits
associated with development, redevelopment and approaches, improved land use efficiency, transit oriented development and
shared services are encouraged in the region, while scattered sprawl type development is recognized as an inefficient use
of land and an impediment to achieving a more sustainable regional economy.
Economic development can be broadly described as any effort or activity that improves general economic health. It may involve
a range of activities aimed at increasing the local tax base and providing employment opportunities, including both land development
and non-development approaches. Efforts can range in scale from local to regional, and individual economic activities will
depend upon local conditions. In areas characterized by high natural resource values, economic activity may be in the form
of agriculture and forestry, redevelopment of brownfield and grayfield sites and existing developed areas, and the expansion
of recreation and tourism opportunities. Agricultural areas will benefit from a sustainable agricultural approach that includes
agri-tourism and the reduction of the potential for conflicting land uses through clustering and redevelopment of existing
|The skate park that was recently built in the Upper Greenwood Lake region of West Milford
Tourism is a major
component of New Jersey's economy. It is the second largest industry in the State and continues to be a significant revenue
source for the state in terms of billions of dollars annually and provides approximately 500,000 tourism related jobs statewide.
The region's historic, cultural, recreational and scenic locations should be recognized not just as a tourism resource but
as economic assets which can be managed and enhanced in a sustainable manner adding much benefit to local economies. Tourism
initiatives should focus on increasing visitors to the region by linking attractions to restaurants and accommodations. Transit
oriented recreation and tourism connections should be encouraged where possible. From an economic perspective, the terms agri,
eco and heritage tourism refer to the business opportunities related to farm operations, other than the traditional sale of
agricultural goods, natural and heritage resources that do not involve the modification or consumption of the resource. The
program component includes coordination with the NJ Division of Travel and Tourism to promote agri and eco tourism activities
to support the farm economy by allowing farmers to benefit from additional sources of income; coordination with historic preservation,
open space, and recreation efforts as a means to link agricultural preservation/retention efforts; and the development of
economic development incentives that include flexible land use regulations to support the expansion of food and farm related
Economic activities should support both
the local communities and the larger region. The Highlands offers residents and visitors a variety of recreational and tourism
opportunities within a landscape that reflects history, exhibits scenic beauty, and provides outdoor recreational activities.
The extensive and varied recreational, agricultural cultural, historical and scenic resources
contained with the Highlands Region represents a substantial foundation for a regional tourism economy. It also serves the
local population with many active and passive recreational facilities close to home.
|Greenwood Lake is a year round attraction which offers a wide range of watersports and fishing
Heritage tourism is a fast growing segment of the tourism market
that is oriented toward a cultural heritage experience. It involves visiting historic and cultural places and artifacts and
engaging in activities associated with the people and places of the past. The overall purpose is to gain an appreciation for
the stories and the people that had a part in forming history. Heritage tourism uses resources that already exist and in the
way is a sustainable activity. Additionally, with the proper planning heritage tourism can help support the preservation of
|The entrance of Old Jungle Habitat is a popular place for hiking and mountain bike riding.
Sound land use planning
is important to ensure economic vitality in the region. Conforming municipalities are required where appropriate to develop,
or update, an economic plan element that provides strategies for achieving sustainable economic development appropriate for
the municipality and consistent with the policies and objectives of the RMP. The economic plan should also include a discussion
of fiscal sustainability. These plans will vary considerably in scope, depending on the size and composition of a municipality,
its current economic conditions and whether it chooses to grow or not. Any development, redevelopment and brownfield opportunities
should be identified in the economic plan. Economic plans should strive to maximize potential economic effects when locating
future homes, commercial and industrial facilities through development, redevelopment and public facilities.
Existing land uses and the transportation system provide a foundation for sustainable economic
growth. Economic activity that involves land development should be concentrated around transportation corridors
and in local and regional centers, which in turn protects sensitive natural and farming areas from conflicting uses. In sensitive
natural and farming areas zoning can permit agri and eco tourism uses while implementing RMP resource standards to prevent
the development regulation that permit the Establishment of home occupations, entrepreneurial and other small business activities
to increase economic viability while reducing transportation costs.
|Long Pond IronWorks, located in West Milford, was one of the first Iron forges in the country
|In addition to fresh fruits and veggies, Evergreen Farms also hosts a Driving Range and Mini Golf
Outdoor recreation and the tourism associated with it involve
the interaction of people with an outdoor environment during their travel and leisure time. Outdoor recreation consists of
active pursuits such as sports and games, as well as less active, more leisurely activities such as walking in the woods or
bird watching. Outdoor resources accommodate two types of recreation activity: resource based recreation and facility based
recreation. A community should have a mix of resource and facility based recreation opportunities for its residents. Enjoyment
of resource based recreation activities is directly linked to the health of the outdoor environment. Hikers, canoeist, cross
country skies and campers all enjoy their experiences if the environment is clean and healthful. Facility
based recreation is accommodated through a built facility. Typical facility based recreation activites include indoor ice
skating, pools and indoor sports requiring a court such as basketball. Generally the location of these facilities is less
dependent of the natural surroundings than other forms of recreation.
|The Greenwood Lake Air Show and WWII Showcase brings in many historic planes and veterans annually