The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Republican candidates for Township Council Carl Suraci and Greg Burchette.
To the editor:
This is the fourth of our weekly letters to discuss topics of interest to highlight accomplishments and to address our vision for Hillsborough’s future. This week’s topic is open space and farmland preservation.
We all benefit from the preservation of farmlands and open space. Local farms provide fresh food at a reasonable cost. Farms and open space keep property taxes down (by not being converted to houses and burdening our infrastructure and school system), and protect scenic vistas, quality of life, and property values throughout the Township. They also preserve the environment; open space maintains wildlife habitat and undisturbed soils, and properly managed farms practice soil conservation and erosion control. Given the vulnerability of zoning to being overturned in court, preserving farmland and open space is the only guarantee against overdevelopment.
Embracing the importance of land preservation has resulted in preserving over 30 percent of Hillsborough’s approximately 54 square miles. In Money Magazine, when listing Hillsborough as one of the Best Places to Live, some of the prime attractions are our active and passive recreation opportunities, our parks and open space.
The biggest parcel was of course the 369-acre Belle Mead GSA Depot. This property, which was an avowed target of residential developer K. Hovnanian (who presented to residents, a plan to construct 800 homes), was preserved in a landmark arrangement in which Somerset County and Hillsborough cooperated to share the work, share the costs, and acquire the property from the federal government, with the federal government picking up the bulk of the clean-up costs. We are currently undertaking the redevelopment process to transform that site into a primary parks and recreation complex for the benefit of all Hillsborough residents including finalizing the first phase plans, a new baseball complex with lights.
Major acquisitions this year include the purchase of 235 acres of open space in the Mill Lane area (also a residential developer’s target) and partnering with the county for the purchase of another 348 acres in the environmentally-sensitive Sourland Mountain area. Hillsborough has continued the practice of acquiring grants from county, state and federal sources to help finance these purchases, including over $1 million from Green Acres Grants towards the Mill Lane purchase.
We are committed to continuing Hillsborough’s policy of aggressive open space and farmland preservation, and leveraging available county, state, and federal open space funds. If you would like to learn more about our respective backgrounds and our platform, please visit our website, www.HillsboroughGOP.com.
Carl Suraci – Mayor, Hillsborough Twp.
Greg Burchette – Planning Board Member
Republican Candidates for Township Committee