Originally Posted August 20, 2013 by Jacqueline Mroz – NJ Monthly
Volunteerism is a way of life in Warren, and the people of the town make it what it is. From the coaches in the recreation department to emergency services personnel to Warren’s various boards and commissions, the vast majority of hours are put in by volunteers.
If you want to understand what makes Warren Township a great place to live, do the math. From 2010 to 2012, the median home sales price rose an impressive 23 percent, to $706,450. During the same period, the average residential tax bill barely budged. In 2012, the figure stood at $12,469.
How do they do it? “We don’t spend a lot of money. Our debt load is very low. We owe only about a 10th of what we’re allowed to owe,” explains Mayor Victor Sordillo. “We just don’t borrow a lot of money. We fix things and paint them. The new, state-of-the-art recreation facility was paid for with the help of volunteers.”
Volunteerism is a way of life in Warren. From the coaches in the recreation department to emergency services personnel to Warren’s various boards and commissions, the vast majority of hours are put in by volunteers, says Sordillo. The volunteer fire department and volunteer rescue squad, he says, save the town between $1 million and $3 million a year.
Nestled in the northeast corner of Somerset County with a population of 15,716, Warren was founded in 1806 and named for Major General Joseph Warren, hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill. The area was settled by farmers and, despite rapid growth in recent decades, it maintains its rural character with large lots, open space and several remaining working farms in its 19.3 square miles.
With its attractive mix of established neighborhoods and newer, upscale subdivisions—with enticing names such as Top of the World, Greenwood Meadows and Emerald Pond—the township is able to lure upwardly mobile families seeking great amenities and good schools. Warren Hills Regional High School, which also draws students from neighboring Long Hill, Greenbrook and Watchung, ranked at 168 in the 2012 New Jersey Monthly list of Top Public High Schools.
The township has also succeeded at attracting businesses, which helps temper taxes. Chubb & Son Inc., where the mayor works as a vice president and global technical services manager, is based in Warren, as are Citigroup’s IT operation and several other corporations. Sordillo says Warren has a very low vacancy rate for its commercial buildings.
Location helps, too. Warren is conveniently perched near Routes 78, 287 and 22. There’s no NJ Transit station in Warren, so rail commuters have to catch the train in nearby Basking Ridge, Gillette or Stirling.
Warren also lacks a traditional town center, but it does have two well-kept strip malls with restaurants, salons and shops. Locals gather at popular dining spots like Uproot, serving modern American cuisine; Alfie’s Ristorante Italiano; and the Country Squire, a casual coffee house/diner that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Ultimately, it’s the people who make Warren what it is.
“It’s a very community-oriented town,” says Adriane Stewart, a realtor at Weichert Realtors and former chairwoman of the recreation commission. “Our recreation department serves everyone from our tiniest residents to our seniors. On a recent Friday night we had an oldies concert with antique cars. We have a great summer camp program, and fishing derbies. It’s just a wonderful community.”
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