The Highlands Act specifically recognizes the impact the provisions of the Act will have on landowners within the Highlands Region. Specifically, the Act requires that the RMP and the more stringent environmental regulatory standards “should be accompanied, as a matter of wise public policy and fairness to property owners, by a strong and significant commitment by the State to fund the acquisition of exceptional natural resource value lands.”
The Highlands Act mandated that until June 30, 2009, properties being considered for preservation under the State Farmland Preservation Program or the Green Acres Program were to be assessed at the current value as well as on the value based on the local zoning, State environmental laws, and NJDEP regulations in effect as of January 1, 2004, with the higher of these two values to be used as the basis for negotiation. This "dual appraisal" period was extended until 2014 by P.L.2010, c.70.
The Highlands Act also requires the establishment of a transfer of development rights (TDR) program. With this program, growth is shifted from sensitive areas where no development will occur (“sending zones”) to growth-compatible areas (“receiving zones”) allowing landowners in the sending zones to receive the value of the development rights and preserving their equity. Under P.L.2010, c.7, any municipality in the state can voluntarily become a receiving zone for Highlands Development Credits.