Protecting Our Environment with Green Initiatives
The Marathe administration has always been a leader in protecting the environment and our team pledges to continue to expand our many green initiatives. West Windsor is now SolSmart Silver certified, Sustainable Jersey Silver certified, and is designated as a Tree City USA.
Early on, the Marathe administration adopted a new “Green Development Practices Checklist” that the Township staff, Planning Board, and Zoning Board now use when reviewing new projects coming before them. The checklist strongly encourages the use of native, non-invasive plants, pervious materials, eco-system-based handling of storm water, and water and energy conservation. It also specifies the installation of solar panels where practical, electric vehicle charging stations, and pedestrian and bike friendly street design.
These green enhancements can be seen throughout our town in new commercial and residential projects, and we will continue to strongly advocate for green design and infrastructure at all levels.
West Windsor will also continue to be in the forefront of solar power adoption for both commercial and residential buildings. Under Mayor Marathe’s leadership, we became one of only four towns in New Jersey to be a SolSmart designee, earning the prestigious Silver level for adopting policies that encourage the use of solar power. Our Construction Department created an extensive new document providing a detailed guide for roof mounted solar to ensure residents and their contractors will have a successful permitting process.
Mayor Marathe and the West Windsor Council are active proponents of Electric Vehicles (EV), and the Township has been home to the only Central New Jersey National Drive Electric Week events for the past three years. Both the Mayor and Council member Geevers have successfully negotiated as members of the Planning Board for increased EV chargers and infrastructure for both commercial and residential projects. New ordinances will be introduced to require EV chargers as per State guidelines. One only has to look around at all the electric cars now owned in West Windsor, including Mayor Marathe’s vehicle, to see how EV-welcoming our town has become.
Stormwater management is important both to prevent flooding and to ensure having clean water. West Windsor recently passed a new stormwater ordinance that meets and exceeds new State environmental standards. Instead of following the cookie cutter approach of copying a sample model ordinance, we went beyond it to ensure our ordinance addresses the issues specifically applicable to West Windsor. Our more modern base of relatively recent construction does not have the design issues prevalent in some towns, but we often have problems attributable to improper maintenance. To meet this challenge, we added requirements of yearly certifications to ensure that stormwater systems have been inspected and are operating properly. This procedure will protect our environment without interfering with home and business projects of minor impact.
Please take some time to look at the native plant pollinator gardens that are springing up around West Windsor on Township properties, as well as the rain gardens that demonstrate environmental storm water handling. The flagship pollinator garden is at Community Park, where an outdoor environmental community demonstration area is planned to include a solar light and a rain garden near the skate park. These will encourage and educate both residents and commercial property owners. Thank you to the volunteers, including Girl and Boy Scouts, who have worked with the Township on these innovative projects.
The State of New Jersey has passed a law banning stores from supplying single- use, point-of-sale bags. In anticipation of it, Mayor Marathe requested the Environmental Commission to carry out a Reusable Bag initiative to discourage residents from using single-use bags. A Sustainable Jersey grant was received for $10,000, which allowed us to buy reusable bags for distribution and related educational materials. Environmental Commission members and members of the Township Council have distributed thousands of these bags to residents and underserved groups. Council member Geevers distributed bags to retail businesses, shoppers, the WW-P school system lunch program, and residents of Freedom Village in support of this program.
The Team of Marathe, Geevers, and Whitfield will continue to work toward enhancing our environment and to working with residents and our business community on these many green initiatives. We strongly believe protecting the environment is not only important to our community but to the very existence of our planet.