RANDOLPH, NJ - Wrapping up a project in the works since 2012, Randolph Township Council began the ordinance process on a Green Acres Release for the land used by the Randolph Animal Shelter. The proposal needed to go through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection before being approved by the council.

Currently, Randolph operates a regional animal control program within India Brook Park in Mendham Township. Due to Green Acres funding and restrictions, the kennels and buildings already at the location could not be used for purposes other than Parks and Recreation.

“Green Acres requires that in order to utilize buildings that are on park land funded by Green Acres money for something other than a parks and recreation purpose, it has to be diverted,” explained Township Manager Stephen Mountain.

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The property discussed equaled almost 3.5 acres in of restricted land that needed to be replaced by Randolph Township.

“Working creatively between Mendham Township and Randolph, we were able to designate the 90-acre property [on Calais Road], since that was not purchased through a Green Acres loan or grant,” Mountain said. This property well exceeds the Green Acres required ratio of land being diverted to land being offered, he added.

“We had all that done, believe it or not, back in 2012,” Mountain continued. “[It was] approved by the state house commission… Unfortunately, it takes a long time for paperwork to get through state bureaucracy, particularly when there’s staff changes.”

He added that Planning/Zoning Administrator Darren Carney deserves credit for pushing the process “all along the way, saying we’ve got to get this paperwork closed up before all the people who are familiar with it retire.”

Mountain assured the council the Green Acres restrictions would not inhibit any of the plans already associated with the new park on Calais Road stating, “all those things that we’re doing with the park are consistent with the Green Acres rules.”

Mendham Township will go through the same process to ensure the property is diverted and replaced smoothly within the two municipalities.

At the Feb. 15 meeting, the council passed a resolution to take effect immediately, and then introduced an ordinance which will memorialize the resolution.