Wednesday, June 16, 2010

134 acres once slated for development to be preserved in Mount Olive (6/14/10)

This is a second story for the preserved land reported on last week in the previous Confessions of an Acre Whore entry.

Located in western Morris County, this 31.1 square-mile township had a population of 25,934 as of 2007, as recorded on Wikipedia. This was a 7.2-percent increase of the 24,193 population reported in 2000. The township had its largest reported increase in population, 173 percent, in its 1970 census, when the township recorded a population of 10,394. The earliest recorded census figures for Mount Olive, in 1930, recorded a township population of 1,235.
By Minhaj Hassan
MOUNT OLIVE — Conservation groups have successfully negotiated a deal to preserve more than 100 acres of land that had been approved by the township for a residential development.
The Trust for Public Land purchased a 134-acre parcel in the Highlands region that was slated for the development of 16 single-family homes. The approvals were before the Highlands Act went into effect.
TPL will pay $2.65 million compiled from several groups to purchase the land and the Land Conservancy of New Jersey will own and manage the land as a watershed. The land contains streams that feed into the headwaters of the South Branch of the Raritan River, which provides drinking water to some 1 million Garden State residents.
"Conservation of drinking water sources is paramount to keeping New Jersey's citizens healthy," said Anthony Cucchi, TPL's director for New Jersey. "This land in the South Branch Raritan River headwaters was nearly lost to development, and we are grateful to our partners for working diligently together to meet this conservation challenge and protect and restore this important Highlands resource."
Some of the stream channels were disturbed when a road was installed and stream crossings were installed to make way for the previously approved housing project. However, efforts will be made to have the area return to the way it was prior to the construction. They include stream restoration, removing the crossing and detention basins and soil stabilization on the site.
Mayor David Scapicchio praised the land preservation deal.
"The construction project had damaged neighboring properties," he said. "The Trust for Public Land took the initiative in making the project happen, and The Land Conservancy of New Jersey will be a good steward in returning the property to a natural state. The public will get the benefit of enjoying the property," he said.
Freeholder Jack Schrier, whose governing body contributed $1.6 million in open space trust funds toward the purchase, said the deal is further of proof the county's commitment to open space.
"Here is further demonstration of Morris County's two decades of preservation leadership, as we continue to help protect more critical water supply lands for the benefit of our residents," he said in a statement. "It all contributes to our high quality of life, so important to the Freeholders.

Minhaj Hassan: 973-428-6628;

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