Home » Pennington Proposes Area in Need of Redevelopment, Advances Master Plan

Pennington Proposes Area in Need of Redevelopment, Advances Master Plan

by Lynn S. Robbins

The Pennington Planning and Zoning Board approved crucial elements of the Borough’s Revised Master Plan, focusing on open space, natural resources, and property development at its June 12 meeting.

Expanding the region’s trail network

Committee chair Alan Hershey reviewed the Open Space and Recreation element of  the Borough’s Revised Master Plan and introduced a bicycle/pedestrian path linking the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) connector to the eastern and southern neighborhoods of Pennington. 

Hershey said the new trail route connection would begin at the Stony Brook Bridge on East Delaware Avenue, run along East Delaware to its intersection with Federal City Road, and then across that road and up the Madison Avenue fire road into the Presidential Hill neighborhood.

“The element is designed to improve its connections to the Hopewell/Pennington region trail network, provide more safe access for walkers and bikers, off heavily traveled streets, to recreational assets outside the Borough,” Hershey said in an email interview with MercerMe.

Some challenges that would need to be met for the plan to become a reality, Hershey acknowledged. Pennington would need to work in cooperation with Hopewell Township because the connector trail would be entirely within the Township. Approval from Mercer County would be needed for the section along East Delaware Avenue on County land.

Because the Borough’s Open Space fund would not be adequate to back the project, funding sources from outside the Borough would be needed.

At the June meeting, Hershey said the Open Space Committee has expanded its plan to consider environmental issues including pollution, water, and air quality. Planning Board vice chair Andrew Jackson commented on the issue of stormwater runoff and said the plan will integrate suggestions from The Watershed Institute’s municipal policy specialist, Susan Bristol.

The Master Plan Committee approved the pedestrian-bike trail for inclusion in the Master Plan, when the Plan is presented for final approval. Detailed information on the Open Space and Recreation element is available on the Borough website.

Conserving Natural Resources

Environmental Commission chair, Kieran John, introduced the Conservation of Natural Resources element of the Master Plan and reviewed four of Pennington’s resources. Below is an abbreviated summary of these assets:

  • Geology: Located at the southern edge of the Piedmont Plateau, the Borough’s topography is relatively mild.
  • Soil: Sixty percent of the soils are classified as prime farmland. Although Pennington is relatively flat, there are some steep slopes along the banks of Stony Brook and existing railroad lines.
  • Water Resources: There are slightly over two miles of streams flowing across Pennington, including Lewis Brook, Stony Brook, and Woolsey Brook. There are also features defined as waterbodies, lakes, or ponds, and .025 acres of wetland. The borough delivers about 80 million gallons of water per year to its users.
  • Climate and Air Quality: Pennington is subject to severe storms which occur in Mercer County and often cause flooding. Air quality in the Borough is generally good as there are no major sources of air pollution located in or near Pennington.

After John’s presentation, meeting attendee Kate Kessler suggested that the natural resources plan should also address earthquakes.

In an email interview with MercerMe, John commented on the value of planning for the future. “In my opinion, the Conservation of Natural Resources Plan element and the overall 2025 Master Plan are not just documents; they are blueprints for a sustainable, prosperous, and resilient future in Pennington. They embody our commitment to preserving the natural beauty and health of our environment, guiding our growth in a thoughtful and sustainable manner, and ensuring that our community in our Borough remains a vibrant place to live, work, and thrive.”

John acknowledged commission members Yasmine Zein, Jackson, and everyone who dedicated their time and expertise on the natural resources document and other elements of the comprehensive the Master Plan.

The draft of the Natural Resources element was approved by the Board and will be discussed at an upcoming Council agenda. Detailed information on the Conservation element of the Master Plan is available on the Borrough website.

Redevelopment proposal approved for four acres within Pennington Borough 

Planning Board Identifies Dilapidated Area for Potential Redevelopment

James Kyle of Kyle + McManus Associates (KMA) presented findings from a preliminary investigation created to assist the Planning Board in determining whether certain Borough properties are “areas in need of redevelopment”. The area studied covers approximately four acres of land located on the south side of Brookside Avenue stretching from Green Street to North Main Street.

This process of determine whether an area is in need of redevelopment is permitted statutorily in The New Jersey Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL), N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 et. seq., and enables municipalities to take advantage of a broad range of tools that assist in remedying deteriorated conditions and blight or lack of proper utilization of land that ultimately impacts the public good.

 View of front of structure on Lot 4.

Kyle showed photos of several dilapidated structures including garages, a barn and a single family dwelling. A section of Lewis Brook flows under one of the structures through a pipe tunnel.

Kyle assured the Board that the owners of the two residential homes within the covered area would not be forced to sell their properties. He reported that homes are not dilapidated, and therefore not subject to eminent domain.

Meeting attendee Kessler commented that the barn on Lot 2 has historical significance, and Kyle said it could be saved and be reused for other purposes.

The Planning Board approved the report findings, which concludes that the investigated area qualifies for redevelopment based on New Jersey’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law. Board member Mark Blackwell abstained from the vote because he owns property included in the report. 

Next Steps

Once adopted, the resolution must be forwarded to the Commissioner of Community Affairs for review; under certain circumstances explicit approval is required, which must be issued by the Commissioner within 30
days. The governing body must issue a notice of determination within 10 days to all property owners within the delineated area and any person who filed a written objection and specified an address where a notice of determination must be sent.

The report can be viewed on the Borough website at Preliminary Investigation Block 205, Lots 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (penningtonboro.org).

Before the meeting closed, Kyle congratulated Jackson for doing a “monumental job” in spearheading the revised master plan. In turn, Jackson applauded the volunteers for their commitment and work in making it happen.

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