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32 percent

January 12, 2012

The Highlands Act may be under attack by Gov. Chris Christie and some of the towns within the region but according to the Highlands Council, 32 percent of the planning area (142,422 acres) has been protected under conforming petitions from local towns. Submitting these plans for approval is voluntary, and most of these plans were approved in 2011. Another 97 percent of the Preservation Area (401,903 acres), which is not voluntary, has met conformance with the Highlands Regional Master Plan.

The council, in its annual report, says that 37 Highlands municipalities and two counties have had their submitted petitions approved by the council as conforming to the master plan, 30 of them in 2011.

Nevertheless, the Christie administration has been appointing council members that are avowed opponents of the Highlands Act, most recently this week with the nomination -- and confirmation by the state Senate -- of Richard Vohden, a Sussex County freeholder who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.

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