Results of Questionnaire Distributed at Advisory Committee Meeting #1
I. At the first Advisory Committee meeting on November 26, 2001, a questionnaire was distributed to the meeting participants asking them to prioritize the following draft Strategic Plan Objectives based on a one (1) to five (5) scale with one (1 ) being the most important objective:
Based on the 23 questionnaires that were collected at the meeting plus those faxed to Anthony Stanzione of the Cumberland Development Corporation, meeting participants prioritized the objectives as follows.
Roughly half of the participants identified Objective A (to address existing needs for jobs, infrastructure, and economic development) as the most important objective of the plan. Objective A received the highest overall ranking. About one-quarter of respondents identified Objective C (to achieve intermunicipal agreement on development goals and strategies) as the most important objective. With 77 percent giving it a ranking of 3 or better, Objective C was selected as the second highest priority. Approximately one-fifth of the respondents selected Objective D (to develop a planning and implementation agenda) as the most important objective and overall it ranked third. Objective B received a rating of three (3) from approximately 32 percent of respondents and finished fourth in the overall rankings.
Obtaining Plan Endorsement (Objective E) does not seem to be a high priority of the meeting’s participants. Slightly over 80 percent of respondents ranked this objective either four (4) or five (5) and it finished last in the overall rankings.
II. To help direct future components of the study, participants were also asked three questions pertaining to the study. The questions and selected responses are listed below.
Question #1. From your perspective, how important are environmental protection and/or land conservation as goals for the region?
• Environmental protection and land conservation are essential to Cumberland County’s quality of life.
• Land conservation and land protection is very important but the townships with the larger amounts of open space must work in conjunction with the more developed municipalities for economic survival.
• Environmental protection is important but should be flexible enough to accommodate new industry.
• Environmental and land conservation goals are important and a number of programs are already in place in our County to reach these goals.
• We need to emphasize the regional benefits of preserved lands including economic studies of cost savings for services, environmental benefits, and payment in lieu of taxes programs.
• Environmental protection and land conservation are important but the present goals of the plan should focus on economic development. Increased environmental protection measures and land conservation should take place after there is an increase in jobs and industry.
• Many respondents did not elaborate on the question but indicated that environmental protection and land conservation are very important for the region.
Question #2.Is there a possible or inevitable conflict between economic development and environmental protection? How do you deal with potential conflicts?
• I believe that there is a possible conflict but we must keep environmental protection a top priority when considering economic development initiatives.
• We should provide education to residents and businesses on how to take advantage of the county’s natural resources to cater to the tourism trade.
• There needs to be public education and discussions of relationships between environmental protection and economic development.
• Conflicts between environmental protection and economic development will always exist because different organizations have their own agendas. There are substantial controls already in place to minimize the conflicts, such as NJDEP, wetlands bureau, CAFRA, Pinelands Commission, Wild & Scenic Designations, etc.
• Development should be concentrated in areas where infrastructure already exists. Ecotourism is a good tool for this conflict in this region.
• Prudent zoning is essential to planning in the region and will help avoid future conflicts.
Question #3.Regional collaboration in preparing a Strategic Plan is a primary objective of this project. What impediments do you see to obtaining a planning consensus on goals and strategies?
• A lack of communication and varied political interests are a major impediment.
• Some municipal officials may be interested in specific goals for their municipalities and may want to keep development in their area.
• The inability to share costs and benefits between municipalities/Spreading the economic benefits equally between participants.
• All parties involved must agree that this plan’s success depends on total membership cooperation. We must be willing to put aside individual desires for the benefit of the county as a whole.
• Setting meeting dates that will be convenient for the people involved.
• Making sure all municipalities are treated equally in the process.
• Long-term planning can be hindered by short-term economic ideas that need to be considered in terms of broader environmental impact.
• Personalities and personal agendas will get in the way of progress.
III. A regional strategic plan has many components. Subcommittees have been formed for the Western/Southern Cumberland Region Strategic Plan. These subcommittees will focus on key planning topics that will be addressed in the strategic plan. Participants were asked to identify the subcommittees that they were interested in:
The following individuals indicated their subcommittee preference:
IV. There will be four Advisory Committee meetings during the course of the project. The meeting participants were asked to check off the best possible date and time fore future meetings. The responses varied, but the fourth Monday evening of the month was the most common response.