October 23, 2017
The Planning Board is responsible for developing and periodically updating the Land Use Master Plan. It also reviews amendments or revisions to the Township Land Development Ordinance to ensure that the ordinance remains consistent with the Master Plan of the Township. When a landowner wants to pursue a new development project (and occasionally a modification or improvement to existing infrastructure), an application must be presented to the Planning Board. This Board reviews the proposed development projects in the context of the Land Use Master Plan. This plan includes the Township Zoning Map, and represents the overall vision for future areas of development, preservation or redevelopment.
Recently, the Board has entered into work sessions to update, review and accordingly revise several ordinances in the Township to make them more applicable to the needs of the Township today. The Board is currently working on updating the Renewable Energy Facilities Ordinance to encourage the use of solar and other renewable energy sources in Readington. Future items on the agenda for review are the Sign, Tree Replacement and Fence ordinances. The Planning Board has the authority to pass an ordinance, send it to the Township Committee for review, and if approved it comes back to the Board for a final vote.
In addition, the Board is working on a zoning overlay ordinance in the historic Whitehouse-Mechanicsville district. A zoning overlay applies particular changes that affect a smaller section of a planning zone. The area of the overlay is occupied by Readington Farms and the QuickChek corporate headquarters. The purpose of establishing the overlay is to plan for and accommodate for potential expansions of these two locations. Board members have completed site visits with Readington Farms to better understand their intentions and to assist with items such as increased (via transfer) Floor Area Ratio (FAR) allowances, better screening of the property so it fits in better with the adjacent landscapes and enabling the expansion of the facility in a way that will ultimately cut down on truck traffic.
The Ordinance was unanimously approved by the Township Committee on October 16th. Representatives for Readington Farms were in attendance and spoke during the hearing. Their attorney, Henry Kent Smith, of Fox Rothschild, said, "This ordinance is critical to our future here in Readington". He said it would allow Readington Farms to make a capital investment in this community.
Don Merrigan, President of Readington Farms, said he has worked there for 30 years. He said Readington Farms is looking to modernize and get into the market for some new products they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. He stated they would look to start work on their expansion in the spring.
The Board, made up of 7 volunteers who serve 4-year terms and works closely with its professional planners from Clark Caton Hintz The Planning Board also coordinates with the Zoning Officer and the Board of Adjustment (Zoning Board) to better understand the needs of residents. The Mayor and another member of the Township Committee also sit on the Board, by statute. It meets at 7:30 PM on the second and fourth Monday of each month at the Township’s municipal building; members of the public are welcome and encouraged to attend.