One of the most attractive communities in New Jersey, Warren Township, has a great history and an even greater future. Originally, Warren Township was inhabited by the Lenape Indians. European farmers settled the territory in the early 1700′s; and in 1806 Warren was carved from part of surrounding towns and incorporated. The town was named after General Joseph Warren who was a hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolution.
Warren Township has 19.3 square miles. It is nestled in the Watchung Mountains. Once described as “the greenest place in New Jersey”, Warren Township residents and elected officials are working to keep its rural character and charm while recognizing that there will be growth due to the town’s beauty, favorable property taxes and strategic location.
Less than 35 miles to Manhattan makes Warren Township a favorite suburb for commuters to New York City. Businesses and residents alike chose Warren as their home because of the access to major roads and resources. Warren is positioned between route 78, route 22 and route 287. It is close to major shopping centers and great restaurants.
Warren Township is the location of over 600 businesses. These include restaurants, retail, and manufacturing & office occupancies. The Master Plan has kept our commercial and industrial growth to only a few main streets. Most of the commercial property is found on Mountain Boulevard, Mount Bethel and Stirling Road.
The Township Committee revised the Master Plan in 2001. The purpose was to control growth in such a way as to maintain the rural character of the town and insure that our services were not strained. The process started with a survey of the residents. The questions ranged from open space usage to age restricted housing. The results demonstrated a strong desire to keep some of the large farm and woodland tracts of land undeveloped, to improve the town center and to provide for recreational needs.
The Committee set goals to meet the needs of the community. The first step was the writing and approval of several new ordinances. They included one that increase residential lot size; another that required cul-de-sacs to have a minimum number of six lots; and another that eliminated bonus lots for developers. These along with an aggressive land acquisition policy have significantly reduced the number of future new homes.
Numerous complaints were recorded over the number of trees being removed by developers. This was addressed by the revision of our tree removal ordinance. Very specific guidelines were set regarding the purpose for removal and the number of trees that could be removed. Fines were established and our tree replacement program was enhanced.
The survey results were also very clear in the need for restricted age housing. A significant portion of Warren’s residents are seniors and many would like to stay in town but do not want the responsibilities of maintaining a home. The Committee looked at several sites that could accommodate a development and selected one on Washington Valley Road. The location is close enough to the center of town to allow the future residents to walk to the shopping centers and the Town Hall.
This development will be restricted to age 55 and older. As we do not anticipate many children in the development, our school system will not be burdened and this tax base will provide the added benefit of improving the property taxes for all property owners.
An additional goal of the Township Committee was to increase recreational opportunities. Although the vast majority of our open space land acquisition will remain natural, we were able to meet the needs of our youth sports programs with the building of two all-purpose fields on the Duderstadt Farm and renovations to basketball and tennis courts.
Like all suburban communities, the town’s population is growing. In 2010 the census reported 15,311 residents. A 2000 report associated the growing needs of the town to the formation of various committees over the years. The Open Space Committee analyzed the potential development of the town and recommended the purchasing of land to preserve it for public use. In recent years the Town and/or Somerset County purchased over 400 acres. Most of this space would have been used for residential development. The purchases included the Wagner Farm on Mountain Avenue and the Meyers Farm on Old Stirling Road. Not all of the open space was at a cost to Warren Township or the County. A very large parcel, which included a pond, was donated to Warren Township by Atlantic Development and is now used as a nature trail and the home of our fishing derby.
Mount Bethel Meeting House Another Committee, that has made a significant difference in our quality of life, is the Historical Sites Committee. They were formed in 1971 and members are appointed by the governing body to administer municipally owned historic landmarks. These landmark properties include the Mount Bethel Meeting House and the Kirch-Ford House. The Meeting House dates back to mid-1700 and is listed on the National Register.
Although Warren Township is changing, the past will never be forgotten. Those who have come before us are remembered for their contributions great and small as farmers and builders, teachers and ministers, and bankers and lawyers.