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Redevelopment is an often overlooked, but increasingly important planning tool for rural areas in New Jersey. Once considered only a remedy for depressed inner cities, municipalities of all sizes have begun utilizing the redevelopment process in order to address a variety of land use issues, transforming underutilized or poorly design properties into attractive, economically viable areas of the community.
As suburban regions expand further into the countryside, rural communities are continually looking for new ways to address development pressures without compromising the character of the community. Redevelopment enables a municipality to control the development of a designated area to a much greater degree than it can with other planning or zoning techniques. Redevelopment powers are far reaching, including property acquisition, negotiations with potential redevelopers, financing, and interlocal agreements.
In Hunterdon County, three municipalities have established redevelopment areas:
In September of 2002 Lambertville adopted a redevelopment plan for Connaught Hill, a 13-acre residential neighborhood called the Commons, located on a bluff south of County Route 179. Since then the City has investigated a possible expansion of the redevelopment area to include adjacent vacant land, as well as the former Lambertville High School building. The plan advocates a mix of housing types, a new public park and playground, and the installation of a public sewer system.
Between July and September of 2004 Milford Borough hosted a series of visioning workshops for the vacant paper mill property, a 108-acre site that straddles the boundary between the Borough and Alexandria Township. Milford has declared its 73-acre portion a redevelopment zone, and is currently working on a draft redevelopment plan that includes housing, office space, and light industrial uses such as craft works, media production, and indoor recreational facilities. Recently the two municipalities have discussed the possibility of collaborating on a master plan for the entire 108-acre site.
In December of 2004 Frenchtown Borough adopted the Frenchtown Village Center Plan, a redevelopment plan that designates the Central Business District as an area in need of rehabilitation and sets forth design standards for preserving the historic integrity of the Village Center. The plan provides the municipality with greater control over the designated area, which extends from Third Street to the north to Lott Street to the south, and from the Delaware River and Raritan towpath to the west to Trenton Avenue/Race Street to the east. In February of 2005 the Department of Community Affairs awarded the Borough a $40,000 Smart Future Planning Grant to aid the municipality in rehabilitating buildings and redeveloping unused commercial and industrial properties.