Monday, July 9
Are You, Or Aren’t You An Entrepreneur?
Penni Nafus, director of NJAWBO’s Women’s Business Center, knows that so many people puzzle over whether to start a business. One sign that the entrepreneurial life may be right is an aversion to life in a corporate cube, but she says that so much more is required. If you have ever dreamed of opening your own business, Nafus has some answers for you. Whether you are dreaming of opening a local gift shop or founding a multi-million dollar manufacturing company, the skills you need to know are very different from the skills you need to survive in the corporate cubicle.
A popular WBC course, “Are You an Entrepreneur?,” gives an overview of those skills. The next free course takes place on Monday, July 9, at 9 a.m. at the Women’s Business Center, 127 Route 206, in Hamilton. Cost: free. To register call 609-581-2220.
The class, says Nafus, is a great starting place for “people who have a really great idea, but don’t know how to go forward.” The three hour course is not long enough to go into detail on every issue of business ownership, but it does give an overview of a variety of topics. The class, says Nafus, teaches people the “business of being in business.”
The WBC is the educational arm of NJAWBO (New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners). It offers a variety of seminars, classes, and individual consulting for women and men at all levels of business, from those just starting out to seasoned business owners.
Nafus has been teaching the entrepreneur’s course, “for about six or seven years,” she says. She brings to the class her own experience as an entrepreneur, a life which she “came to almost by accident,” she says. Her husband, James, a refrigeration engineer, had an equipment problem. “A Zamboni (an ice resurfacing machine) blew, and it all started with a phone call he made to the company,” she recounts. During the call, he decided that Zamboni was in need of a distributor in the central New Jersey area. He and his wife stepped into the void and ran the distribution business for 22 years, until selling their company in the late 1990s.
However, leaving the business did not mean the Nafus was ready to retire. She joined the WBC and at the same time finished her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Rutgers University.
One of the common problems many business owners have, says Nafus, is that “they know their craft, but they also need to know business.” A fabulous chef may decide to open a catering company, but to stay in business she will need to learn a new set of skills. These include bookkeeping, marketing, networking, the legal structure of a business, as well as insurance, obtaining financing, and credit.
Nafus also says that every new entrepreneur needs to think about an exit strategy. It may sound odd to think about closing your business before it has even opened, but Nafus explains that knowing where you want your business to be in 20 to 25 years is an important starting point for every entrepreneur. An understanding of where you want to take your business is crucial to developing a good business plan.
So what makes an entrepreneur? Nafus says there are several common traits of a successful entrepreneur.
Passion. Number one on her list of top skills for the entrepreneur is passion. “If you don’t care about your business, then no one else will,” she says. Passion for your business will keep you going late at night and on weekends, and it will help you to find creative solutions when the going gets rough.
Health. Having good health is very important for the entrepreneur. “When beginning a business people work 12 to 14 hours a day. You have to have the good health and the energy and stamina to do that day after day,” says Nafus.
Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are a third key to becoming a successful business owner. Being able to communicate both with customers and with employees is an essential ingredient to giving good service. “I’m a firm believer that no matter the product, service is number one,” says Nafus.
Creativity. Entrepreneurs have to be creative and independent. They need to be able to solve the unexpected problems that arise and to keep coming up with new ideas. They also need the confidence to go ahead with those ideas.
Accept challenges. This is one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs, she says. They must be prepared to accept that something might not work and have the ability to find a way around the problem. One of the common traits all entrepreneurs share is that they are independent thinkers who don’t easily fit into a mold. They aren’t “traditional folks; they’re renegades,” she says. “They don’t want to be put in a cubicle.”
While this independence is what drives them, it can often be their downfall if they don’t ask for help from others who are more experienced. That’s where the “Are You an Entrepreneur?” class comes in. As a former entrepreneur herself, Nafus teaches by example. Says she: “I’ve made every mistake they’re going to make.”
— Paul Miller
Rewrite the Past;
Rethink the Future
Change is inevitable. “People transition six or seven times in their careers,” asserts business coach Helene Mazur of Princeton Performance Dynamics. Each time they have to “build on everything they’ve done in the past and translate it into something else that will be even better.”
Of course, when someone is out of work, it can feel like more a perpetual punishment than an opportunity to move toward the future. But by setting goals, developing the necessary skills, and controlling negative attitudes, people can confront the challenges of job change and come out on top.
Helene Mazur is one of the speakers at the Jewish Family and Children’s Service’s Project Reemployment, a free seminar taking place on Monday, July 9, Wednesday, July 11, Monday, July 16, and Wednesday, July 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hickory Corner Library in Hightstown.
The sessions are for people who are either new to the job search process or who have not sought employment in some time. Mazur will be helping people “focus on what steps they can take now that are a little outside of their comfort zone.” To register, contact Beverly Andres at 609-987-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To provide good advice about how to get a job, a person must understand the corporate world from the inside out. Mazur paid her dues for about 20 years in four large companies, Merrill Lynch, Dean Witter, Bankers Trust, and Electronic Data Systems, in jobs where she worked with business owners and colleagues in functions ranging from sales and marketing to facilitating administrative groups and strategic planning.
Six years ago she started her own business, Princeton Performance Dynamics (www.ppdbusinesscoaching.com), where she works with small professional service businesses — both the owners and their teams. “I have had a lot of real live leadership experience helping effect change in companies,” says Mazur, “and I’m doing it now with small businesses.” For at least four years Mazur has been offering similar help to the participants in Project Reemployment.
Mazur received her bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1979 from the State University of Albany and a master’s in business administration from the Stern Business School at New York University. She is also a certified financial planner.
What Mazur works on at both Project Reemployment and in her consulting work is helping people to think differently about past and future.
To help people define what it is they are really looking for, Mazur starts with the big picture, asking people how they define success. “This is a good framework for thinking about life in general,” she says, “not just about how to get a job tomorrow.” But of course it’s not really a question people spend a lot of time pondering, and initially they have trouble with it. That’s partly because most people are running around with someone else’s definition of success, that of their parents, their ex-boss, or even their spouse, says Mazur.
When Mazur asks people to brainstorm about their goals, she finds they are different for every person. But some do come up time and again: more flexibility, more challenge, making a difference in world, and financial freedom.
In her work to help people reach their personal goals, Mazur follows a process that leads from the assessment and development of skills to the creation of actionable items.
Shape past experience into future possibilities. When they launch a job search many people have lots of experience, including a set of skills they want to translate into a different job than they’ve had in the past. The question, says Mazur, is: “How do I represent myself as something I’ve never been in the past?” One way to start to figure this out is to write down skills, and then brainstorm — at this seminar, or with friends, former colleagues, or a career counselor — about other types of careers that would use those skills.
Do research on available jobs. Many people spend a lot of time on the computer, submitting resumes to huge online sites. But given the tremendous volume of resumes these sites pull in 24 hours a day, the response rate can be close to nil. “I encourage people to spend less time on the computer and more time out there and meeting people,” says Mazur.
She encourages job seekers to use all possible resources to connect with people. A good place to start, she says, is the U.S. 1 Business Directory, which provides an overview of companies in the area. Another resource is Handsonhelpers.org, a website for volunteer opportunities. The goal, she says, is meeting people who can eventually introduce you to the “right people.”
At the beginning, it’s not a matter of immediately finding the “right people,” but rather just cracking open the decision-maker’s door. “Don’t be intimidated if the three people you talk to won’t be the hiring managers in the company,” she advises. The goal might be to get “three names that will get you closer to the company you are looking for.”
Prepare a 30-second elevator speech. You need to be ready when you meet people to tell them in short order who you are and what your goal is. For example, “I’m in transition and looking to learn more about some of the local companies in the information technology business.”
And don’t forget to bring along your business card.
Manage your time well by setting up a plan. Frustration looms large during a job search, especially after four hours on the computer that yield nothing. Instead specify exactly what you plan to do, being as specific as possible.
Mazur urges job seekers to keep the goals small: maybe attend four networking functions in the next month; spend an hour a day either at the library or online researching a new industry; or spend that hour a day talking to people about what the industry involves, what credentials are required, and whether there are open positions. Take a class to develop skills that may be prerequisites for a different type of work, or even “go to the gym a couple times a week to keep your attitude in check.”
Mazur’s goal for her clients and the people at Project Reemployment is to get them to “take themselves a little bit out of their comfort zones, to encourage them to take an action that they haven’t taken before.”
Specify any obstacles and challenges that might prevent you from achieving your goals, and work through possible solutions.
Hone job search skills. The skills that are critical in a job search include time management, sales (because you are selling yourself), leadership (in this case, self-leadership, because you have to know where you are headed and have a game plan to get there), and writing skills — cover letters and resumes need to be perfectly written, engaging, and persuasive.
Work on your attitude. “Even if you have all the right skills and goals,” says Mazur, “sometimes attitude can be the biggest piece of the puzzle in terms of being able to succeed at anything or find a job.”
Mazur offers several suggestions: surround yourself with positive people, read self-help books, keep reminding yourself of your past accomplishments (in fact, make a folder and pull it out any time you’re feeling down).
Find someone to encourage you through the process. At Project Reemployment participants coach each other, but anyone not able to attend can enlist a friend to fill this role. “Find someone you can work with to remind you of what you are trying to accomplish, to help you stay on track with your action plan, to ask how you are doing, and to help you move forward,” suggests Mazur.
Mazur thinks that job opportunities are out there, partly because, she says, “a lot of companies are starting to think creatively when they are looking to hire people.” An accounting firm, for example, was looking for women who have been in the work force before, but out of it for a while, because “they like to train them their own way.”
In the job search process, the keystone is setting goals and Mazur suggests keeping in mind the SMART acronym — not her own invention, she says, but on the mark: Goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically high (that is, a stretch but not too much of a stretch), and they should each have a Target date.
— Michele Alperin
Tuesday, July 10
Green Energy Advances,
But Not in the Mainstream
Clean energy is lagging. The same technological explosion that has transformed aviation, the Internet, and even video games, has left wind, solar, and biomass energy creeping along far behind. This inequity is not due to a lack of vocal cheerleading. Praise for alternative power sources has become trendy — embraced even by conservatives who scoffed not so long ago. Meanwhile, actual innovation and new applications are being bypassed by the business mainstream.
Why isn’t clean energy replacing older, fossil-dependent technologies? This is a key question on the table at the Environmental Leadership Program’s “Climate Change Conference” on Tuesday, July 10, through Thursday, July 12, beginning at 9 a.m. at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights in Newark. Cost: $75. Call 215-292-3040 or visit www.elpnet.org. “Climate University,” a pre-conference instructional program, takes place during the early part of the conference, and has a separate registration fee of $50.
The kickoff seminar, “New and Emerging Models of Climate Friendly Business Ventures,” promises to show projects in the works and unaddressed needs — along with a little finger pointing at energy villains. Speakers include Cameron Brooks, vice president of resource development for Renewable Choice Energy in Boulder, Colorado; Jacob Park of Green Mountain University; and David Dunn of Central Vermont Public Service.
Brooks is an angry, eager environmentalist who has the technological know how to back up his insistence on more progress. A native of San Francisco, he graduated from Yale University in l991 with a bachelor’s degree in ecological design. He then led several environmental advocacy groups in Colorado before earning an MBA from Cornell University in ecological marketing.
A strong New Jersey advocate, Brooks became one of the major architects for New Jersey’s Renewable Energy Credit system in 2004. The state was clamoring for more clean energy out of existing utilities, and purchasers of clean energy systems were clamoring for relief from high installation costs. As a project manager for the Clean States Alliance (www.cleanenergystates.org), Brooks helped develop a system whereby all public utilities must have a set percentage of their total kilowatt hours as clean energy.
To meet these percentage standards, the utilities can purchase RECs — renewable energy credits — from individual homeowners who use solar, wind, or biomass systems. If a home is powered largely through solar panels, for example, any excess energy that it produces is purchased by a utility company.
Brooks is now developing new wind powered facilities for Renewable Choice Energy. By using the support from renewable energy credits the company helps establish new wind farms and makes wind a viable option for the individual residential homeowner. (Visit www.renewablechoice.com.)
“We have to change our mindset,” says Brooks. “The technology will come and will be adapted if we can break the traditional energy views foisted upon us by the utilities.”
Energy myths. For generations, big regional utilities have convinced themselves — and us — that they need to always be ready for peak load. Therefore, they have overbuilt, their plants are often idle, and we pay for it. “It is a little like hiring extra help for the Christmas rush, and then keeping them on all year long,” says Brooks.
From what Brooks terms “this big block attitude” has come the concept that all kilowatt hours — each unit of energy — must cost exactly the same, because they come from a common pot.
But what about charging based on the energy’s source, time of day, location, or weather considerations — for example, the need for air conditioning on a 100-degree August day versus a 60-degree August day? We accept such billing from telephone utilities, Brooks argues.
Such kilowatt categorizing could encourage peak-time conservation and the use of cleaner energy. Solar energy, for example, has long been seen as the ideal peak power hedge, because when demand for air conditioning is at its highest — on those sunny, 100-degree August days — solar units really shine.
Restricting energy production to a few, centralized plants may be wasteful, but it could also be dangerous in terms of security. These huge regional facilities are ideal targets for terrorists of any stripe — and are vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes, too. What’s more, they are so enormous that they are beyond any possible backup.
“Where were the solar panels on the New Orleans stadium during Katrina?” asks Brooks. “Just a minimal number could have flooded those poor refugees with much needed light.”
Ventures afoot. For the last few years venture capitalists have been plunging into wind and solar energy distribution with lucrative results. New Jersey, boasting one of the nation’s most solar-friendly policies, has seen demand soar well beyond the ability of installers to meet it. Home Depot, which has customers waiting in line for solar, despite their heavy mark up. But Brooks points out that this is only for the most basic clean energy systems.
“Electrons flow both ways; energy researchers are stuck in only one,” he says. “I can download music to and from anywhere on my iPod, but there is no device on my dishwasher telling me whether energy demand is high, or low.” Brooks foresees such priority routing as the very essential and very profitable next step in energy development.
If a chip were installed to govern a home’s or a business’ energy flow throughout the day and week, the total capacity required at any time could be reduced. The well pump, thermostat controlled refrigerator, air conditioning, and other appliances could perform their tasks in conserving concert. There could be cost savings in using energy during off-peak times. Just as telephone companies are able to minimize the size of their systems by encouraging off-hour usage, so too could utilities use the carrot of lower bills to get consumers to pay attention to when they are doing their laundry.
The problem is one of application, not technology, Brook insists. We have airplanes that land electronically by sensing and communicating data back and forth. Programs like these for running residential and commercial buildings are comparatively simple. And as energy costs skyrocket, new entrepreneurs should be knocking on the doors of major distributors.
Villains & bottlenecks. “We have a utilities network that is at best indifferent to clean energy, and at worst hostile,” says Brooks. “Despite urgings from the public, businesses, and even a grudging government, we are stymied.” Like virtually all businesses that have been reaping profits from one product, one way, for a long time, utilities have resisted the change to alternative energy sources.
New Jersey government mandates that a set percentage of each utility’s energy be classified as clean. Utilities are fined $300 for each megawatt below that mark. Rather than build clean energy plants, utilities have chosen to purchase clean energy credits from various solar arrays around the state. (One renewable energy credit equals one megawatt of electric power.) From where does the money for these fines and REC purchases come? It is simply passed along as a surcharge to the ratepayer. It’s a bit pesky, but the utilities lose nothing.
Additionally, utilities have launched a major, if somewhat subtle, campaign stating that clean energy is overpriced. Solar and wind systems, they say, couldn’t possibly stand alone were it not for vast government subsidies. The average household in the U.S. employs 9,000 watts of electricity annually. At today’s prices in the New Jersey, a solar array to handle that usage would cost $70,000 before rebates. After state and federal subsidies, the homeowner’s bill might come to $25,000 with an approximate eight-year payback.
Certainly, this is subsidized energy. But what the utilities fail to mention is that they themselves are subsidized by government on a scale that makes solar subsidies look paltry. These subsidies may have been legitimate when states sought to avoid a tangle of competitive wires criss-crossing every street, and therefore created a regulated monopoly for electric power. “And while that need is long gone now,” says Brooks, “the utility subsidies still remain, and competition is strangled as a result.”
— Bart Jackson
New Investment Tip
What does is mean when Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley begin rating companies based on their response to climate change? Why are major institutional investors, acting on their analysts’ advice, divesting their portfolios of environmentally irresponsible firms? In short, what do these experts already know that you want to know?
For probably the first time, the business and investment sectors are focusing on climate change as a strategic concern. The rationale behind this new trading trend is one of many topics discussed at the Environmental Leadership Program’s “Climate Change Conference” on Tuesday, July 10, through Thursday, July 12, beginning 9 a.m. at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights in Newark. Cost: $75. Call 215-292-3040 or visit www.elpnet.org.
On the morning of July 11, the panel discussing “Climate Change and the Marketplace: Changing Landscape for Business Strategy,” shows the surprising power of this new investment-environment link. Panelists include Eric Becker, vice president with Trillium Asset Managers; Donna Steele of McKinsey and Company; and Shelly Zimmer of NIKE.
Growing up in Boston, the son of a social worker and a psychiatrist, the realms of finance were the last career path Becker could imagine himself choosing. He attended Haverford College, graduating in l991 with a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion. When asked whether he ever uses this academic major, Becker replies, “In this market? Every day.”
Becker originally joined Trillium Asset Managers to work on the company newsletter. But he soon got swept up in the excitement of investing, and in l996 became a financial analyst for the firm.
Trillium, whose investments have traditionally been governed by social and environmental responsibility, has encouraged Becker to develop several climate-change oriented funds. This past April the Environmental Leadership Program named Becker as one the Boston area’s top 24 environmentalists — an unusual award for an investment manager.
“We are swiftly entering a new, carbon-constrained era,” says Becker. “Simply, the companies that survive and draw investors are those that can go lean in this new aspect.”
Green mandates. There are still a few, head-in-the-sand business people who deny global warming, climate change, and environmental peril, dismissing the lot as some sort of political hoax. “Believe what you will,” says Becker, “but governmental regulations and supply restrictions are coming, and they will force firms to mix environmental concerns into their daily business equation.” Virtually no one is making profits large enough to ignore the energy dollar drain.
One factor already increasingly appreciated by most businesses is the energy savings achieved by going green. As utility-fed electricity and carbon-based fuel costs continue to soar, trimming the energy bill becomes the difference between black ink or red. Companies that build and refurbish using energy-efficient techniques, find new conservation methods, and adopt alternative clean energies are noting the competitive difference.
The green mandate is even creeping into product design. Baldor Electric Company, based in Fort Smith, Arkansas, manufactures several models of electric motors. But it is their ultra high efficiency model that is flying off the shelves. The price is premium, but since the energy cost of running a motor dwarfs the purchase price, no one is looking at the sticker.
“Quality is coming back,” says Becker. “Customers are demanding a longer product life cycle, and cheaper running costs. These are factors that allow companies to differentiate themselves in the market.” In addition to the customer savings, the environmentally-conscious companies are banking enormous amounts of good will.
New due diligence. No doubt Goldman Sachs has some outstandingly altruistic brokers working at its offices, but rest assured they do not suggest any stock offering because the company does nice things. Major brokerage houses make and maintain their reputation based on the results of their financial advice. They will tell clients to invest in munitions if a war is imminent. So why are they pushing environmental responsibility so hard right now?
“It’s primarily to protect their investors’ assets,” says Becker. All the energy savings, product differentiation, regulation compliance, and good will give a company fiscal strength. Conversely, the wanton polluter or energy hog faces excellent odds of not lasting another 20 years, and becomes an investment broker’s liability.
“Climate change has become just one more risk management consideration in the due diligence process,” says Becker. A manufacturer of recycled steel, versus virgin steel, is the sounder long term investment. Likewise a company that developed a climate change strategy and opts for recycled steel in implementing it will gain brokers’ recommendations.
Investors’ yardsticks. “As the chief investment officer for New York City’s pension fund, I look for long and short term security for our $100 billion worth of investments. This means that consideration of sustainability makes for a positive bottom line,” says William Thompson. Thompson is not alone.
The Investor Network on Climate Risk (www.incr.com) is an organization of institutional investors and financial institutions with more than $4 trillion in assets. It is using its clout to demand climate change strategies from all companies. By holding summits and forcing shareholder resolutions, they are getting the message across. We can no longer afford to ignore our environment. We must consider the effects of our actions.
“Currently, there is not a great transparency in the energy-per-manufactured-widget available,” says Becker. “But just wait, energymetrics reporting will soon be standard.” Investors already want to compare not just a company’s energy strategies, but its actual energy usage within a given field.
In l990, Trillium launched CERES, a coalition of investors and investors. Linked with INCR, it formed the Global Reporting Initiative, which not only urges disclosure of environmental impact, but also sets a quantifiable standard for investor comparison. More and more investors will be able to see what environmental policies they are buying into.
Clearly, the myth that for business to prosper, environmental concerns must often be set aside, is quickly losing favor. The investment community is beginning to see the economy and the environment as intertwined. As Abby Joseph Cohen, Goldman Sachs’ partner and chief U.S. investment strategist, who is famous for predicting the bull market of the 1990s, says: “We believe that environmental matters belong on the agenda of every company.”
— Bart JacksonBuilding Restrictions May Thwart Re-Development
Given the heavy rainstorms of April, and of years past, and of the flooded highways and basements that ensued, the state government had to look for some solutions. One reason for flooding, the state decided, was development close to the banks of rivers and small streams. More buildings and more parking lots naturally mean that less soil is available to soak up rainfall.
One result of the observation is that the Department of Environmental Protection has put into place four new rules that will affect land development as the state approaches the point of complete built-out. But these rules — set to go into effect by the end of the year — have a lot of developers scratching their heads, and scrambling to catch up. Some think that too little thought, and too little science, went into drafting the rules, and that they will stifle not only new development, but also redevelopment of deteriorating urban areas.
“The state has adopted a series of regulations in the past year that severely restrict the development of land,” says Neil Yoskin, an attorney with Sokol, Behot, and Fiorenzo in Hackensack, where he practices in the areas of environmental law, land use, and civil litigation. “These changes purport to be quality related but they have severe land use implications as well, both residential and commercial everywhere in the state,” he says.
In New Jersey water quality regulations are often the determining factor on whether all or part of a parcel of land can be developed. A property may meet all local zoning requirements, but can still face regulatory restrictions on the state level. “These new rules will create buffers adjacent to water bodies,” says Yoskin. “Whereas under the current rules if you were developing within a flood hazard area and planned to build within 25 feet of a stream you needed a permit from the state. Now this 25-foot minimum will increase at least to 50 feet and in many circumstances to 150 feet, or even 300 feet, on either side of a stream. That’s the real bugaboo.”
Yoskin moderates a seminar on “Land Use, Water Quality, and the Law” on Tuesday, July 10, at 9 a.m. at the New Jersey Law Center, One Constitution Square, New Brunswick, sponsored by the New Jersey Center for Continuing Legal Education. Speakers will include Lawrence Baier, director of Division of Watershed Management; Andrew R. Davis, of Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor; Joseph J. Fleming, of PS and S Engineers; and Tavit Najarian of Najarian Associates. Cost: $199, but free for law students with I.D.) To register or for more information, call 732-249-5100.
While primarily set up for practicing attorneys who represent builders, developers or municipalities, as well as municipal planners or city officials, the seminar is also offered to the public. “We generally get a good representation of the general public at these events,” says Yoskin. “This particular topic is pretty controversial and will have an almost draconian impact on development.”
According to Yoskin, one of the reasons why the rules are controversial is because many doubt their ultimate benefit.
“A lot of people are wondering just how effective all this will be,” says Yoskin. “The environmental community is happy about these rules, but others feel it is just the politically expedient thing to for a problem that is a lot more complicated. Government has a lot of administrative problems and a constrained budget and sometimes the easiest thing to do is draw a bold line and leave it at that.”
Another problem is the vagueness of the rules. “The rules don’t distinguish well between development and re-development,” says Yoskin. “So even in areas that are being redeveloped, you can run into these requirements.”
While ostensibly meant to further environmental protection, Yoskin says that the new regulations ignore many subtle facts. “A lot of consulting engineers and scientists feel that the 300-foot buffer requirement isn’t supported by the scientific literature,” he says. “The fact is that the water quality buffers are a function with a lot of variables that include flow, vegetation, and temperature, and most suggest that 300 feet is just too wide. It becomes obvious that it is really not a water quality measure, but a land use measure.”
A practicing attorney in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Yoskin is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Sections on Environmental and Land Use Law and the American Bar Association’s Natural Resources Law Section. He is also a member of the National Association of Home Builders-Legal Action Network for Development Strategies. A former staff attorney with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, he is a member of the adjunct faculty of Seton Hall University Law School and serves on the Environmental Finance Advisory Board of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He earned his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his J.D. from Temple University School of Law.
Yoskin says that the ultimate impact of the new rules will be to take a lot of land out of development throughout the state and in some cases to make redevelopment much harder. The rules will also potentially conflict with other goals of state government, such as redeveloping cities like Patterson or Camden.
“Most of our cities were built along rivers because that is where you have your power source,” he says. “But these new rules, particularly the flood hazard rules, make redevelopment so difficult. We have a client who does nothing but build multi-family affordable housing. He was approached by the Patterson Housing Authority for a project on the banks of the Passaic River. But when we ran the numbers on the new rules, he saw that he had to create so much area for a flood storage basin that it would have forced all parking to be structured parking. That makes the project unaffordable. This site under the new rules will not be developed, and you won’t have that affordable housing. It will be an empty lot in the middle of town.”
But despite difficulties and questions about the efficacy of the new measures, they will be a reality that all developers will need to take into account. “The perception by the state is that if we just adopt these rules, we will solve the problem of flooding,” says Yoskin. “But even if you believe that flooding is caused by existing development, regulating new development out of existence won’t change the problem. But this is something that those considering new development will need to take into account.”
— Jack Florek
Wednesday, July 11
Go Gas Free
The Greater Mercer TMA (www.gmtma.org) is holding its first gas free day on Wednesday, July 11. The mass transit advocacy organization is urging everyone to pop out of their car cocoons, take a deep breath, and find another way to get to work.
Do not stop for gas, GMTMA is urging. Send a message that pump prices are too high, and at the same time give a commuting alternative a try. Take part, and you will definitely save money, you may win a prize, and best of all, says GMTMA’s Joan Beck, you may find that carpooling, or biking, or taking the bus is an unexpected pleasure.
A warm woman who understands Mercer residents’ extreme attachment to the independence that comes with having their wheels parked right outside their doors, she says that those who are able to break free tend to like sharing their ride with others. “It’s someone else to talk to,” she says of carpooling.
The gas free idea was Beck’s, but she quickly adds that “it’s not really new. I’ve heard about it a number of times.” The impetus for these mini-boycotts, she says, is generally a rise in gas prices. The tipping point now tends to be $3. At that price, she says, “people talk about boycotting the pump. They say ‘let’s send a message to such and such.’”
The media tends to pooh-pooh the idea, though, she finds. “They say you’re not doing anything. You’re filling up day before or the day after.’” That response misses the mark, though. “You’re reducing your days of travel by one,” she points out. “You’re using gas for one day less.”
While carpooling is not yet the norm, Beck says that “numbers are up.” She credits a good part of the increase to a state program, started about one year ago, that gives $100 gas cards to new carpools after 24 trips within two months. “We’ve had enormous interest,” she says. Everyone — even people already carpooling — is eligible. Sign up at www.NJcommuter.org or at GMTMA’s website. A commuter service manager will then arrange a convenient carpool.
GMTMA is always coming up with new ways to part commuters from their solo drive habit, but a random ride down Route 1 any day between the hours of 4:50 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. is enough to demonstrate that one-person-per-car is the norm. How frustrating is that? “I understand it,” says Beck. “You wish more people would take part, but I’ve been in it long enough. But it just takes little things and a little time. If somebody tries it, they find they like it. There are a lot of benefits.”
Beck herself is not an ideal carpool candidate. “I live in Little Egg Harbor Township,” she says. “I travel 62 miles one way.” But, thanks to her boss, she is doing her part to save gas. “I have a great boss, Sandra Brillhardt,” she says. “I telecommute two days a week.” The arrangement is great for Beck, but it is also a benefit to her organization. Like so many telecommuters Beck says that “I find I get more done at home. I’m be able to achieve more.”
Anyone telecommuting on July 11 is eligible to enroll in the Gas Free Day program, right along with the bikers, carpoolers, and workers who plan to travel via bus, train, or van. Sign up at GMTMA’s website.