The Mayor's Column
Open Space in MonroeAugust 02, 2016
With 6,670 acres of open space preserved forever, 1,312 acres of which is preserved farmland, Monroe Township is well on its way to achieving its goal of ensuring 50 percent of its land being undeveloped and a big part of that is making sure many of those preserved lands remain as wooded areas.
To purchase land for preservation, the Township utilizes its Open Space Trust Fund, which was authorized by the voters and established through a 1.5-cent (per $100 of assessed valuation) Open Space Tax. Using the Trust Fund, the Township has been able to purchase open space acquisitions. Monroe regularly works with Middlesex County and the State of New Jersey on open space purchases, sharing the costs and work that goes into the preservation of key acquisition parcels.
The Township prioritizes the preservation of lands that are next to other preserved lands as a means to create green belts throughout the Township to ensure there are large portions of Monroe that will remain green forever. Our undeveloped lands include a combination of State, County and Municipally-owned properties, and homeowner association owned lands that can never be developed.
In addition, the Township currently has 1,387 acres on its Targeted Open Space Parcels list. More than 120 acres of this land is on Gravel Hill-Spotswood Road adjacent to the Thomas L. Allen Softball Complex and the Township Department of Public Works. The land will be used to establish equestrian and off-road bicycle trails in Monroe.
These trails are the second targeted lands for equestrian trails, since the Township acquired 40 acres across from Congress Hill Farms that will connect Federal Road to James Monroe Park. Those 40 acres connect to a 72 acre piece, which the Township acquired through foreclosure, and connects to James Monroe Park.
The Township is also eyeing more than 72 acres on Disbrow Hill Road near Rocky Brook Estates, 66 of those acres will be donated to the Township by the developers of Rocky Brook Estates, who will also be responsible for building a trail on the property and establishing and maintaining a vernal pool at the site.
Furthermore the state Department of Environmental Protection and Middlesex County have targeted 107 acres of historic lands between Hoffman and Federal Roads. The land is believed to be the site of General Charles Lee’s encampment the night before the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. The land was slated for development, but its historical significance to the birth of America has piqued the interest of the County and State.
We will also continue to target open space that can be used for both passive and active recreation, education and community gatherings. Our dedication to land preservation is one of the reasons Monroe is a desirable place to live, raise a family and retire.