Acquiring Undeveloped Land to Stop Additional Housing
Reducing pressure on our schools by reducing the number of new children moving into the school district has been one of my highest priorities since I assumed office as Mayor in January 2018.
We continue to achieve this by using one of two approaches: First, we can purchase and dedicate land as permanent open space for passive or active recreation whenever possible. Alternatively, we can work with landowners to convert land to commercial use so that it is no longer available for new housing development. This has the added benefit of contributing to the tax base and reducing the tax burden on residents.
The Township has maintained a wish list of open space it would like to purchase. When any parcel on the list becomes available, we aggressively pursue it, even if it is sometimes necessary to condemn the property to make the purchase. A recent example of this approach is the Hall farm on Village Road East at South Lane. A developer had proposed building 400+ townhomes on the property. The Township was able to purchase it as permanent open space after having it legally condemned so that those homes will never be built.
After each open space purchase, our dollars are partially reimbursed by grants from both Mercer County (15%) and New Jersey Green Acres (50%) of the purchase price. This grant money can then be used to purchase additional open space parcels.
For undeveloped parcels unavailable to purchase, we work with the owner to find an alternate use that will generate tax revenue for the township while having minimum effect on residents’ quality of life.
Our consistent goal has been to maintain West Windsor’s suburban character, excellent school system, and quality of life by applying effective strategies to minimize overcrowding and lessen the burden of residential taxes.