BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Local schools and "quality of life" are the reason most respondents said they were attracted to live in Bernards Township, says the summary of a survey conducted by the township's 2020 Vision Task Force, which is due to be presented at Tuesday's Bernards Township Committee meeting. 

Nevertheless, the primary reason some residents said they might decide to move out of town in the future was cited as property taxes, according to the presentation already posted on the township website.  

A full three-quarters (75 percent) of those surveyed report, “Taxes in Bernards Township make it difficult to afford living here," according to the presentation. The survey was conducted by the Vision 2020 Task Force, which was appointed at the beginning of the year by this year's township mayor, Carol Bianchi.

A total of 745 Bernards Township residents completed the Vision 2020 survey in its entirety and 139 residents completed a portion of the survey, according to the presenation. Any survey completed by a non-resident was disqualified.

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The summary emphasizes that the information provided in the analysis of results "is directional in nature only and is not a statistically significant representation of the Bernards Township population."

There survey reports a "profound sense of belonging shared by the roughly 27,000 residents of Bernards Township." A clear majority (78 percent) report they sometimes/always feel a sense of community; 64 percent say they’re extremely/somewhat involved in local goings-on, the presentation says.

Deep-seated perceptions of safety and well-being likely contribute to residents’ sentiment, according to the survey, which reportedly found that 96 percent strongly/somewhat agree they feel safe in Bernards Township. 

When asked about the overall quality of life in town, nearly half of residents (47 percent) feel matters are status quo – neither improving nor declining, the survey said. On the upside, 32 percent believe the local quality of life is either greatly or somewhat improving, the presentation said.

Three quarters said keeping taxes stable is top priority

According to the summary, 77 percent of respondents cited "keeping taxes stable" as the top priority the township should address in coming year.

Top reasons cited for living in Bernards Township

"Bernards’ draw is unquestionably its schools," the summary concludes. When asked to cite their top three reasons for choosing to live in town, the number one attraction is cited as the school system (63 percent), “quality of life” (58 percent) and “safe environment” (46 percent). 

Chief among frustrations was school traffic, with 66 percent saying, “Traffic congestion is a concern around our schools.” In addition, a significant number of residents agree:

Speeding is a concern in my neighborhood (58 percent)

Bernards Township needs more bike paths/bike lanes (58 percent)

Bernards Township needs more sidewalks (53 percent)

Traffic congestion is a concern throughout Bernards Township (41percent)

Bernards Township needs more public transportation to get around town (36 percent)

On a related note, among residents polled, about half said they feel there are too few of the following:

Sidewalks (54 percent)

Modes of public transportation (54 percent)

Biking trails (52 percent)

Hiking trails (51 percent) 

This week's Township Committee meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the municipal building at 1 Collyer Lane in Basking Ridge.