The statehouse in Trenton
By Joshua Burd
Longtime development executive Stephen Santola has joined the State Planning Commission as a public member, following lawmakers’ recent approval of his nomination to the group.
Santola, Woodmont Properties’ executive vice president and general counsel, will serve a three-year term with the commission alongside more than a dozen other members representing state and local government and the public, according to a news release. He joins the panel after being nominated by Gov. Phil Murphy and subsequently approved by the state Senate.
“As a lifelong New Jersey resident, I’m especially proud to be entrusted with the responsibility that comes with serving as a member of the State Planning Commission,” Santola said. “I’ve spent my entire career devoted to state, regional and local planning as a local official and member of the real estate industry, including as a charter member of the Mixed-Use Developers division of the New Jersey Builders Association. I look forward to applying both my real estate expertise and industry and land-use knowledge as a planning commission member to affect change that will benefit all New Jerseyans.”
Santola joined Woodmont Properties as its general counsel in 2004 and is responsible for managing its legal affairs and entitlements, the firm said. He also plays a leadership role in overseeing redevelopment projects throughout New Jersey, while guiding new business opportunities through the state’s complex regulatory process.
Prior to joining Woodmont, Santola was a partner with the law firm of Lindabury, McCormick & Estabrook, specializing in real estate and land use. He served on the Livingston township council for 12 years, including three terms as mayor, and has been both a member of and an attorney for municipal land use boards.
Santola is also a longtime board member of New Jersey Future, a regional planning advocacy nonprofit, and Downtown New Jersey, a downtown, redevelopment and retail support organization. He said he felt that his “varied background will provide a broad perspective on issues facing our state.”
“I am pleased that the New Jersey State Senate has confirmed Mr. Santola’s nomination,” Murphy said in an official appointment letter. The governor expressed confidence that Santola “will fulfill the duties and responsibilities of this position with diligence and integrity.”
The commission was borne from the State Planning Act of 1986, which sought to catalyze the state’s role in directing future growth and aligning resources.