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Poll finds support for statewide planning in New Jersey

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New Jersey residents support statewide planning to guide growth and development and to protect farms and open space, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The poll, which was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, was commissioned by a group of smart growth, environmental and transportation advocates.

The poll found 88 percent of residents said attracting new business is a top concern, while 91 percent say protecting the state's drinking water supply is very important.

Two-thirds of New Jerseyans believe the state needs more sustainable communities, defined as places where a variety of transportation options already exist and neighborhoods are within walking distance of shopping and other services. Most residents also said they would definitely or probably like to live in a sustainable community.

The institute's director, Patrick Murray, said the priorities of residents regarding growth haven't changed much, despite the declining economy.

"One of the most interesting aspects of these results is the widespread bipartisan agreement on most issues, including protecting our water, reducing property taxes, maintaining our transportation system and roads, and protecting open space, such as the Pinelands and Highlands," Murray said in a statement.

The percentage of residents who support a coordinated statewide plan for existing population centers — 69 percent — is roughly the same as in 2002. Fifty-two percent of residents said the state should invest now in transportation, with support strongest for maintaining and repairing current roads. More residents rate expanding and improving train and bus services as a high priority than building new roads.

The poll was commissioned by four nonprofit organizations: New Jersey Future, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Smart Growth America. The survey was conducted between Aug. 18 and Aug. 24, included 804 residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The poll was funded by the William Penn Foundation.

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