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Save Hamilton Open Space
P.O. Box 2594
Hamilton, NJ 08690
Sign Our Petition to Preserve the Rural Resource Conservation Zone and Stop Unwanted Development
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Here are some changes Save Hamilton Open Space would like to see that
would help preserve our open space and ensure development that is beneficial
to the community.
Ordinances and Zoning
Natural Resources Inventory
Pay to Play
There should be a transparent three-way partnership between government, developers and the community. The current system largely excludes the community and is done without adequate public notice.
Hamilton should require an evaluation of large developments to determine whether or not they are beneficial to the community - a "profit and loss" system. Special attention should be paid to the impact of big box stores.
Ordinances and Zoning
Hamilton should pass new and stronger ordinances and zoning.
Cluster residential, commercial and office space to reduce traffic and pollution. In effect, create small villages instead of housing that is isolated from other uses and requires auto trips. The Transit Village concept is an example. (The true transit village does not include American Metro or the Columbia Group housing project, only the project on the east site of the rail line. Careful study and evaluation of the impact of the Transit Village have yet to be done.)
Storm Water Management
Phase II Storm Water Management Regulations, a new state law, began taking effect in Feb, 2004. Hamilton should require that developers demonstrate compliance with the new rules at the time of preliminary site plan approval rather than making compliance a condition of approval. So-called conditional approvals exclude the public from the process.
There should be more public involvement in the Hamilton Redevelopment Plan. Hamilton's first redevelopment plan includes the American Metro office complex, the Columbia Group housing project and the Transit Village development. The 1,000 acre Redevelopment Zone will see more projects in the future.
Hamilton's master plan calls for a new road to link Iron Bridge Rd. with Merrick Rd. It would cross Sawmill Road and run through, or adjacent to, two former farms that have been approved for housing developments - Shisler farm and Dey farm. A new road will draw more development, make subdivision of existing properties possible by creating more frontage, and thereby increase development and, subsequently, traffic and taxes. All this in an area of farms that Hamilton wants to preserve. The road should not be built.
Natural Resources Inventory
Hamilton needs to update its Natural Resources inventory (NRI) and incorporate its findings more actively in development decisions. The current NRI was written nearly 30 years ago. It is meant to guide Master Plan and development decisions. The NRI analyzes soil, geology, vegetation, and hydrology, and categorizes all lands by "constraint level" - Low (ok to build), Moderate (shouldn't build), High (don't build if at all possible), No-Build (do not build).
A report "Closing the Missing Link on the Assunpink Creek Greenway" recommends creation of a greenway along the creek. Hamilton should become active in this effort and support the creation of the greenway to protect stream quality, preserve habitat, control flooding, and provide recreational opportunities.
Further, the C-1 classification of Assunpink Creek should be extended to the entire length of the creek, beyond the the current C-1 portions that flow through the Mercer County Wildlife Management Area and the Van Nest Preserve. This is the highest state stream classification and would help to preserve the integrity of the stream.
Hamilton should incorporate recommendations of the "Crosswicks Creek/Doctors Creek Watershed Greenway Plan" into land use plans and decisions. Hamilton participated in the creation of this study and is planning a trail along the creek.
Impact Fees and Moratoriums
When development costs taxpayers money, the developer should share that expense. If the town's infrastructure (roads, sewers, schools etc) cannot support proposed new development and developers won't pay to create or upgrade necessary infrastructure, the town should be able to declare a moratorium on development. Several bills have been introduced in the NJ legislature over the years to enact these concepts. Hamilton's government and citizens should actively support these initiatives.
We should rely less on property taxes for school and municipal funding. Reliance on property taxes to provide government services and fund schools is a built in incentive to build on open space. That's because new development creates new taxes which are used to pay for schools and other services. However, the cost of the new tax base soon outpaces the revenue, which creates the need for additional development. It's called the "ratable chase", and is a never ending spiral. At the same time our quality of life is degraded.
Further, New Jersey is predicted to run out of buildable land in the next 20 or so years (called reaching "buildout"). That will end the ratables chase, but will leave us looking for new revenue sources. We should revise our tax system now to anticipate the certainty of buildout and its consequences.
Pay to Play
The system of builders and developers contributing to political candidates, officials, and parties at all levels of government corrupts the development process, harms the environment and diminishes the integrity of the system. It's well documented, long lasting, and hard to get rid of. Nevertheless, we should keep pushing officials to do the right thing and figure out ways to rid us of this cancer of sleaze and greed.
Create Incentives & Disincentives for Re-Development
We need "carrots and sticks" to encourage developers to look first at vacant shopping centers, dilapidated buildings, brownfields and other land that's already been developed once instead of building on open space. The Levin Properties shopping center proposal is a classic example. Levin wants to clear thirty acres of trees and build a new shopping center next door to a nearly vacant Suburban Plaza center.
|Save Hamilton Open Space P.O. Box 2594, Hamilton, NJ 08690 | 609-273-9173 | Info@SaveHamiltonOpenSpace.org|