FRENCHTOWN, NJ – A grant from Hunterdon’s Office of Economic Development has been  used by Frenchtown officials to encourage economic development and investment in their downtown by bringing “local regulations in line with the realities of the modern economy,” Mayor Brad Myhre said in a press release.

“Our goal was straight forward, encouraging small business development and expansion in our downtown,” he said.

The $6,750 grant allowed the Borough to work with Maser Consulting and draft the changes to its Land Use Ordinance and Village Center Plan, which Borough officials approved in July.

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The towns’ land use ordinance was changed to allow uses that are growing in popularity, such as including business incubators, makerspaces, microbreweries and craft distilleries. 

Other uses being encouraged include office, indoor entertainment, and a cooking school.

The changes also included benefits for existing local merchants, such as including a reduction in time and expense related to certain permitting processes as well as a simplification of parking requirements.

Councilwoman Caroline Scutt said at yesterday’s Hunterdon Freeholder meeting that that the changes have already yielded positive results.

“We’ve received some great feedback from the business community,” said Scutt. “Working through this process with citizens and the businesses really helped us decide who and what we wanted to be as a community.”

Hunterdon County Economic Development Director Marc Saluk said that the changes are a part of a wave that is sweeping through Hunterdon.

“Several communities have taken advantage of the grant program to secure expert assistance in reviewing local process and procedure,” Saluk said. “Towns are deciding to take proactive steps towards securing a vibrant economy.”

In Frenchtown, the changes come as the town is experiencing several developments including the recent expansion of The Art Yard, the redevelopment of the old ceramics plant and the re-opening of the Frenchtown Café after a fire nearly destroyed the site last year.

“Frenchtown has so much positive momentum that a decision to invest in and partner with them is a very easy one for the county,” said Freeholder Director Suzanne Lagay.

Frenchtown paid 10 percent of total project costs, which is required by the county for participation in the economic development grant program.

Those interested in learning more about the recent changes in Frenchtown can call Mayor Brad Myhre at 908-399-1351.

Municipal officials in Hunterdon interested in learning more about the economic development grant program can contact Marc Saluk at 908-399-1108 or by email at msaluk@co.hunterdon.nj.us.