Roxbury Housing Complex Would Not Bulldoze Morris Canal, Vows Engineer

Morris Canal route near intersection of Dell Avenue and Berkshire Valley Road
Proposed housing would take place on Lot 3. Canal remains are in Lot 5. Credits: Township of Roxbury
1868 map showing Morris Canal in project area

ROXBURY, N.J. - After it's inglorious end in the 1920s, the once miraculous Morris Canal was drained, paved, plowed under, ignored and forgotten in countless places across North Jersey.

History lovers who want to see its remains in Roxbury left alone are now concerned about a developer's plan to build a housing complex on land in Kenvil containing a section of the former engineering marvel. 

The property owner, Roxbury Mortgage, LLC, has asked the township zoning board for a use variance that would allow construction of a 14-unit "townhouse community" for the physically handicapped. The buildings would be built on a wooded, 5-acre, triangular tract between Dell Avenue and Berkshire Valley Road. 

Sign Up for E-News

A section of the defunct canal bed (called the prism) and its towpath run along the Berkshire Valley Road side of the property. 

"We have extreme concerns and sensitivity to any impacts on the canal, and also any improvements that can be made by this application for the historic resource," wrote Roxbury Historical Advisory Committee Chairperson Barbara Cassidy in a March letter to the zoning board. 

Although the committee acknowledged the land is privately owned and subject to development, it asserted that "development of the canal property is incompatible with its historic value" and urged township officials to protect the historical artifact.

The advisory committee not only wanted the canal preserved but also, if possible, beautified to some extent. "Is there any plan to provide restoration of the canal bed or any of the infrastructure? she asked, suggesting that such work could include refurbishing the towpath, clearing the prism and erecting "interpretive signage." 

In June, Canal Society of New Jersey President Joe Macasek weighed-in on the matter. He sent a letter to Roxbury Planning Department Director Russell Stern. 

"The Canal Society would like to voice its concern that the development of the project site will adversely effect (sic) the remains of the historic Morris Canal," wrote Macasek. "Although overgrown and compromised by road construction, significant remains of the canal prism and towpath berm are plainly visible."

Macasek said there are other pieces of the canal adjacent to the site, including a change bridge to the east and a mine tramway site to the west, that "make this a place of special interest as well as an important link between major sites along the Morris Canal Greenway." 

Roxbury Mortgage did not return a call on Thursday. However, its engineer, R. Henry Huelsebusch of Denville was glad to talk about the matter.

He said the historians' concerns are unfounded because the new housing would be built on the Dell Avenue side of the lot, not near the canal. "We are not proposing to do any development in the area of the old Morris Canal," said Huelsebusch. "We are totally leaving that … wooded." 

Huelsebusch said there will be a 70- to 80-foot buffer of trees between the proposed townhouses and the canal. Additionally, Roxbury Mortgage is amenable to "reasonable requests to make some improvements" to the canal said the engineer. This, he said, could be part of a "conservation easement" for that section of the site. 

In an interview, Macasek said the Canal Society is "very pragmatic" when it comes to pushing for preservation of Morris Canal remains. The group is steadily piecing together sections of the 102-mile canal – stretching from the Delaware River in Phillipsburg to Jersey City – to create the Greenway, or trail, mentioned in his June letter. 

The idea for Roxbury is to connect the canal remains in Ledgewood with those along Berkshire Valley Road into Wharton, where Morris Canal Lock 2 East in Hugh Force Park is being restored. 

"There are remains of the canal running south past the (Roxbury Mortgage) site and past Succasunna," Macasek said. "Those assets would make an outstanding hiking or walking path that would connect up with other assets the township already developed as part of its trail system." 

Huelsebusch said there will be a 70- to 80-foot buffer of trees between the proposed townhouses and the canal.  

In a March letter to the zoning board, Stern, the town planner, pointed out that the proposed development might not be in the most convenient place to create housing for the physically handicapped. 

"For the board's information, three multi-family developments are located in Roxbury with a total of 175 units that are either handcap accessible or readily handcap adaptable," Stern wrote. "They are provided with amenities associated with the complex and are walkable communities. The dwellings are situated in close proximity to retail stores, service, restaurants, offices, medical offices and are served by public sewer and water." 

Non of those amenities exist near Roxbury Mortgage's land. 

The project is scheduled to be discussed again by the zoning board at its Dec. 12 meeting.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Tue, July 17, 6:30 AM

Roxbury Public Library, Succasunna, NJ 07876


Education Home & Garden


Tue, July 17, 6:00 PM

St. Moritz Grill & Bar, Sparta

St. Moritz Dinner, Retirement Income Workshop

Business & Finance


Tue, July 17, 8:15 PM

Horseshoe Lake Beach, Succasunna

Movie Night at Horseshoe Lake Beach: Finding Dory

Arts & Entertainment


Thu, July 19, 6:00 PM

La Strada Ristorante, Randolph

La Strada Dinner & Retirement Income Workshop

Business & Finance Food & Drink

Have You Seen Buttons?

July 11, 2018

MOUNT OLIVE, NJ - Residents of Roxbury living near Flanders are asked to keep an eye out for a lost female Yorkie mix that has been missing since July 7.

"Buttons" was last seen near Kevin Drive and Christopher Court in Flanders. The dog, described as friendly but shy, is brown with dark highlights and a white chest patch. If you see her, please call 973-219-9323.


Peyton Knight's Pointers for Safer Driving

Many customers ask my advice for ways to add more years of life to their vehicles. Here are a few pointers from my 35 years of experience in the auto repair industry, as well as some tips to keep you safer on the road.  

1.    Pull Through a Parking Spot.  Pull through to the other side of a parking space so your vehicle faces forward out ...

More Snow! Let Your Kid Drive in It!

ROXBURY, NJ - We are again about to be walloped by a snowstorm. These words, first written at the beginning of winter, need to be reiterated:

Many parents with a new driver at home will see the storm approaching and instinctively decide to not allow their kids to get behind the wheel until the snow's been cleared.

They might want to rethink that.

When it snows, ...

Is Your Car Ready for Old Man Winter?

You know it’s coming: That first frigid morning when you discover your car is covered in ice. Old Man Winter has reared his ugly head once again to wreak havoc on your car and your ride to work. 

Well, I’ve got one thing to say about that: Let’s be ready for him this year!

Owning a repair shop for over 30 years, I have spent many harsh winters coaxing a dead ...


AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Letters to TAPinto Roxbury

'Housekeeping Guides and Landscape Respect' a Must for Roxbury

July 2, 2018

Dear TAPinto Roxbury,

Nice to see your coverage of the plans to improve visual image of Landing.  

In the meantime the DPW or Road Department is storing materials on Shippenport Road in such a manner that it looks like illegal dumping. And that is nothing compared to the ugly problem on area used by contractors (?) next to Route 80 ramp by Frontage Road.

If we are ...

Warsaw of Ledgewood Makes St. Lawrence Dean's List

July 2, 2018

CANTON, NY - Nolan Warsaw of Ledgewood has been selected for inclusion on St. Lawrence University's Dean's List for academic achievement during the Spring 2018 semester.

Warsaw is a member of the Class of 2021. Warsaw attended Roxbury High School.

To be eligible for the Dean's List, a student must have completed at least four courses and have an academic average of 3.6 based on ...

Two From Roxbury Graduate From Roger Williams

BRISTOL, RI - The following local residents were among the 1,127 students who received their degrees in May as part of the Class of 2018

Paul Bohrer of Succasunna N, with a B.A. in Public Health

Samuel Sherwood of Succasunna NJ (07876), with a B.S. in Finance

Fleming Chosen to Represent RHS at Annual NJ HOBY Seminar

ROXBURY, NJ - Roxbury High School sophomore Allison Fleming from Succasunna represented Roxbury High School at this year’s annual NJ Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Seminar.

Fleming spent three days in June at Kean University with more than 300 other sophomores from around the state.

Founded in 1958, HOBY’s mission is to inspire and develop our global ...

Press Releases


July 13, 2018

Events Will Include STEM, Shooting sports, games and More!


STANHOPE, NJ – July 5, 2018– Time for the whole family to experience adventure this summer!  Have some free summer evenings and ready for a summer evening of family fun?!  Families are invited to attend any of four Family Adventure Nights at Camp Wheeler or Watchung Day Camp at no ...

Take the 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey

How often do you read TAPinto?  Have you downloaded the TAPinto APP?  These are a few of the questions for readers in our 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey.

We want to hear from you!

The survey will take less than five minutes to complete and will help TAPinto better serve you. 

Take the 2018 TAPinto Reader Survey.

Thank you.  We appreciate your support and ...