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Pennington’s future: remaking the Master Plan

Inquiring minds may well want to know: “Why does Pennington need a new Master Plan? Who is writing the new Plan and how can I learn more about the purpose and the process? Can I get involved?”

The Master Plan proposes a vision for the community in coming years. It forms the legal foundation for the zoning ordinance and zoning map. The Plan is generally described as a comprehensive guide for the future development of a community in terms of its physical environmental, social, and economic needs. It considers all factors that have an impact on community life and their potential for change.

In accordance with New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law, Pennington was required to reexamine its previous Master Plan, approved in 1998. The reexam report of 2023 found that the 1998 plan is deficient in many increasingly important areas, failing to mention conservation, renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, climate change hazard vulnerability and mitigation, green buildings, and environmental sustainability. Nor does it include an economic development plan.

So, with Council approval, the Planning Board embarked on a two-year effort to complete a new Master Plan by 2025. The Master Plan team consists of Andy Jackson, chair; Council member Nadine Stern, and board members  Amy Kassler-Taub and Kate O’Neill. Adding critical assistance not only in expertise but as liaisons to the community, is the newly created Citizens Action Committee (CAC); Jim Kyle, Pennington’s professional planner, is working with the team at every stage of the plan’s development.

While the Planning Board and the Council discuss the status of the new Plan at their monthly public meetings, more opportunities for residents and stakeholders to learn and get involved are coming up. The first is on April 10, during Local Government Week. Starting at 2 pm in Borough Hall, posters displaying the 12 elements of Master Plan 2025 will be on display in their various stages of development, with Planning Board, CAC members and others on hand to explain and take suggestions. Please come to the event and share your ideas.

From the comfort of home, residents can read the 1998 Master Plan, the 2023 Reexam Report, and more on the Borough website, www.penningtonboro.org. A new Pennington Master Plan website will soon be online, with additional updates. If you have questions, Pennington’s Land Use Administrator Kaitlyn Macellaro (planning @penningtonboro.org) will make sure they get to the right person for a response.

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