SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Planning Board has recognized Somerville for its citizen-oriented programs, including sustainability and severe weather preparation.
Six local projects have been named recipients of the 34th Annual Land Development and Planning Awards presented by the Somerset County Planning Board.
Somerville is being recognized for its efforts aimed at increasing community resilience, sustainability, quality of life and economic prosperity. Some examples include the adoption of a sustainability statement “to encourage sustainable development which improves the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of the supporting ecosystems.”
Another proactive measure, in response to the devastation caused by recent severe-weather events, is the borough Planning Board’s Severe Weather Policy, which supplements the town’s Emergency Operations Plan. It is a prime example of how the measures contained in a municipality’s Hazard Mitigation Plan Annex can be successfully integrated into municipal operations and land use planning functions.
The borough’s goal is to prepare the community so that it can operate a minimum of six days without assistance under catastrophic conditions, by investing and upgrading municipal facilities over the next 10 years and by encouraging and assisting residents and businesses to similarly prepare.
The county Planning Division, in collaboration with the county Office of Emergency Management, will be embarking on the update of the multi-jurisdictional All Hazards Mitigation Plan for Somerset County during 2017, and will use this as an example of enhancing hazard-mitigation planning and implementation at the local level.
“Each year, awards are presented for land development and planning that exemplify superior site design, address contemporary planning issues, or exert a positive influence on the character of the county,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Patrick Scaglione, planning liaison.
“The Board of Freeholders and the county Planning Board believe that exceptionally well-designed and -planned projects should be publicly commended in order to promote better planning and development throughout the county.”
In addition to the standard award categories, the Planning Board, in conjunction with the Somerset County Energy Council, has established an Energy Conservation/Sustainability category to recognize outstanding projects that feature innovative, cost-effective energy conservation and renewable-energy technologies that enhance community sustainability, improve resiliency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The other 2016 award recipients in the following categories are:
THE BARN AT VERNON MANOR, Peapack & Gladstone – Along Peapack & Gladstone’s Main Street sits a 19th-century dairy barn. Once part of Richard Van Nest Gambrill’s Vernon Manor, it has been revitalized into an upscale interior design center and storage facility that utilizes the original structural beams, stone foundation and hardwood floors.
Each of the old-growth timbers and clapboard have been preserved and are visible along with the hay-baling hooks and tracking system along the roof peaks. The fieldstone foundation was underpinned and regrouted. The walls and roof have been insulated, achieving a R23 rating for the walls and a R40 rating for the roof.
Energy-efficient LED lighting, a six-zone HVAC system and Cat 6 wiring have been installed throughout. The barn was outfitted with long-life products such as a standing-seam copper roof and PVC batten-board siding.
As the focal point of “The Cottages of Vernon Manor,” the barn awaits 19 luxury residential apartments that will convert the estate into a functional community with an 1800s look and feel. This project illustrates that historic agricultural buildings can be successfully re-used and become assets to the community.
The developer was Jessica Associates Ltd. The architect was Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners and the engineer was Gladstone Design Inc.
MERIDIA MAIN STREET STATION, Bound Brook – The Meridia Main Street Station is a five-story residential apartment building with 240 dwelling units located in downtown Bound Brook. The site was formerly a car dealership and then became the borough’s public works site.
Bound Brook teamed up with Somerset County to move the borough’s public works operation, allowing the tract to be remediated and developed.
The property is within steps of the Bound Brook train station, which is located on the Raritan Valley Line with rail service to Newark and New York City. It is an important element of the Transit Village designation that the borough received in 2003. The property is located strategically at one of the borough gateways and across the street from Billian Legion Park, a municipal recreation area, and near downtown shops and restaurants.
The new building is a positive change to the streetscape of the downtown and brings new residents who frequent the downtown business establishments. In addition to shops, bakeries, services and restaurants, new residents can take advantage of the other downtown amenities including the Brook Theater with its cultural programming, the Hamilton (Art) Gallery and a farmer’s market in the summer.
The Meridia structure contains various amenities for the residents including a fitness center. The units include energy-efficient appliances and fixtures and the structure is a LEED and ENERGY STAR® rated building. It is equipped with new technology for camera-system accessibility through smartphone or internet monitoring.
Construction commenced in 2014 and the first residents moved in during 2015. The building is now at full occupancy. The project is an example of how municipal officials can follow established planning techniques along with visionary strategies for redevelopment to achieve significant results for their downtown.
The developer was the Capodagli Property Company. The architect was Albert Arencibia and the engineer was Harbor Consultants.
ADDITION OF AGRICULTURAL BUSINESSES TO THE NEW JERSEY SUSTAINABILITY BUSINESS REGISTRY
Dutch Hollow Farm, Bridgewater; Great Road Farm, Montgomery; Johnson Farm, Montgomery.
In the fall of 2016, the Somerset County Green Leadership Hub, in partnership with the Somerset County Business Partnership’s Sustainable Somerset Committee, and two interns from the Raritan Scholars Program at Rutgers University, worked with the Somerset County Agriculture Development Board to gain buy-in from a pilot group of preserved farmers who are incorporating sustainable business practices on their farms in order to enroll eligible farms into the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry, a program that is supported and promoted by the Sustainable Somerset Committee.
The Registry is a component of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Rutgers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The program is a no-cost way to:
Reduce cost while increasing revenue
Be socially responsible
Distinguish sustainable businesses from the comparable competition
Demonstrate concern for the environment
Participation in the Registry benefits Somerset County as a whole because it highlights the responsible and innovative practices being employed through various sectors of industry in our region. On Nov. 18, 2016, Dutch Hollow Farm became the first Somerset County farm to be certified as a registrant of the NJSBR followed by the Great Road Farm and the Johnson Farm.
This project is a true model for the agricultural community in Somerset County and across New Jersey. This project has successfully demonstrated the viability of sustainability as a business practice in a variety of agricultural operations and has promoted the local industry. This first suite of farms has served the purpose of encouraging other agricultural operations to participate by starting, continuing or increasing their sustainable business practices.
Dutch Hollow Farm is owned by Peter Staats, Great Road Farm is owned by James Nawn and Steve Tomlinson, and the Johnson Farm is owned by John Johnson and Dale Johnson.