Master Plan

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Creating Quality Communities Together

1987 Somerset County Master Plan

The Somerset County Master Plan was adopted in 1987 and serves as a guide for Somerset County's future.  The plan includes background dat and information, and goals and recommendations pertaining to the following components: Land Use, Housing, Transportation, the Environment and Capital Facilities.  Portions of the plan remain relevant, while other components have been updated since the adoption of the plan.  Additional elements have been added to the plan, which are described below, some of which are currently being updated. 

1987 Master Plan

Housing Element

 The Housing Element of the County Master Plan was originally adopted as part of the 1987 County Master Plan.  A comprehensive update of this component of the County Master Plan was completed in 2017 and adopted by the Somerset County Planning Board on November 20, 2017.  The updated Housing Element builds upon the Housing Trends Assessment Report prepared by the County Planning Board in 2016.   The updated Housing Element serves as a guide for local and regional land use and housing plans, policies, programs, regulations and investment decisions.  It includes recommendations concerning the location and design of residential development throughout the County, which are consistent with the County Master Plan - Investment Framework Map.  The new Housing Element encourages the appropriate investment of public and private funds in the provision of infrastructure, facilities, services and public amenities needed to create sustainable, resilient, healthy and vibrant neighborhoods.  The Housing Element calls for the provision of a broad range of housing types at all levels of affordability, in inclusive neighborhoods and communities; in response to the County's growing and diversifying population.  It supports the preservation and rehabilitation of the existing housing stock, and the enhancement of existing neighborhoods.  The plan recognizes the dynamic relationship between housing supply, quality of life and the strength of the economy; and encourages the integration of workforce housing opportunities into redevelopment and infill projects, which can act as a catalyst for community and economic revitalization.

County Investment Framework

The County Investment Framework (CIF) was adopted as an element of the County Master Plan in October 2014, replacing the 1987 Land Use Management Map, under the pretense that it is a living document and subject to regular updates.  The bulk of the work developing the plan was performed between 2011 & 2013.  The datasets underlying the map date back to this time.  The County Investment Framework provides the foundation for several planning initiatives underway by the County Planning Board.  Click here for Investment Framework Background Information.

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)

The Somerset County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) was undertaken by the Somerset County Business Partnership through a grant from the US Economic Development Authority.  It was adopted as an element of the Somerset County Master Plan in 2014.  It contains economic development priorities and implementation strategies that support private sector investment and job growth. 

 Trends & Indicators

The Somerset County Trends and Indicators Report was adopted as a background element of the Somerset County Master Plan in 2014.  It contains data and information organized by 13 subject matter chapters ranging from housing and demographics to economic indicators and environmental data.  This report serves as a resource for land use planning, policies and investment decisions.

Circulation Plan

Somerset County's Circulation Plan Update: Making Connections  was adopted as an element of the Somerset County Master Plan in early 2012.  It addresses transportation mobility and safety improvements countywide, and includes policies and strategies for identifying and prioritizing transportation-related programs, projects, plans and initiatives.  It builds upon and reinforces the recommendations contained in the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority's "Plan 2035", and its development included an extensive community-based public outreach process. 

Somerset County Preservation Plan

The Somerset County Preservation Plan is an update of the 2000 Parks, Recreation & Open Space Master Plan Update, the 2008 Comprehensive Farmland Preservation Plan and includes a new Historic Preservation Plan.  The Preservation Plan provides land use, funding and partnership strategies for preservation in Somerset County.  This Plan identifies linkages between the three programs including, economic development, natural resource conservation, and tourism. This planning effort advances the implementation of the Somerset County Investment Framework and the County’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that were adopted as part of the County Master Plan in April of 2014.

The County contracted with the firm of Heritage Strategies who worked with sub-consultants New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF), Barton Ross and Partners, Land Stewardship Solutions, and Washington College GIS Department to develop this plan.

The County Office of Planning, Policy and Economic Development staff worked closely with municipal partners, non-government organizations, private landowners, and other stakeholders to ensure that this Plan comprehensively addressed the unique characteristics, similarities and differences between our preservation programs and County regions.

The plan was formally adopted as an element of the County Master Plan during the May 17, 2022 Somerset County Planning Board meeting. 

For more information about this project, please email

Adopted Plan (4 volumes):

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