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The original item was published from 5/16/2023 7:43:13 AM to 5/16/2023 7:56:16 AM.

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Posted on: May 16, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Middletown Township Committee Introduces Ordinance to Protect Open Space from Development

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For Immediate Release – May 16, 2023

MIDDLETOWN, NJ – At the Monday, May 15th Township Committee Meeting, the Middletown Township Committee introduced an ordinance that authorizes the acquisition of several properties to help protect open space and enhance public recreational opportunities. 

At the April 3rd meeting, the Township Committee unanimously endorsed the Planning Board’s Master Plan Reexamination Report to help protect undeveloped open space and encourage smart growth in redevelopment areas where existing infrastructure such as utilities, public transportation, and jobs exist.

 A Master Plan is a comprehensive document adopted by the Planning Board that creates both a short- and long-term vision for the Township’s future. It is updated at least every ten years to ensure that it remains in line with the community’s evolving needs, including outlining a range of strategies and objectives for land use, historic preservation, recreation, transportation, and open space preservation.

 The Township’s plans to preserve undeveloped open space go hand in hand with its efforts to enhance housing opportunities in areas appropriate for development. The idea is to encourage smart economic growth by encouraging development where it belongs.

The Township Committee is working diligently to preserve open space as well as limit high density housing where it doesn’t belong. “Currently, there is a developer trying to bully our town into building over 500 apartments on a vacant wooded area off a narrow unimproved roadway across from farmland and adjacent to conservation easement areas with limited access to sewers and utilities,” said Mayor Tony Perry. “Rather than finding the right location on an already-developed property, developers want to take the quickest and easiest route by destroying our few remaining wooded, environmentally sensitive and undeveloped properties.”

The Master Plan Reexamination Report also prioritizes recreational opportunities to serve our community while encouraging smart growth. To achieve these goals, the Township will acquire open space through condemnation, if necessary. The Township used this method in 2022 to acquire Fairview Fields, which had been owned by Fairview Cemetery, to prevent it from being developed and forever preserve this as recreational space for our youth. The Township is investigating other similarly appropriate properties, such as a former school property, that would be suitable to preserve for public recreational purposes.

“It makes sense to put a school’s already-existing recreational facilities to good use for the benefit of our community rather than see it overwhelmed with new high-density development that’s completely out of character with the community,” said Mayor Perry. “If we do not take these steps to preserve our land resources, there is too great a risk for these resources to be sold to the highest bidder without any input from or benefit to residents.”

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