Township looks to buy 100 acres

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  • Photo by Linda Smith Hancharick Linda Gloshinski of the Land Conservancy of New Jersey discusses the map depicting the 100 acre property the township is looking to buy.




  • Linda Gloshinski, left, talks to the township council earlier this month, as Marilyn Lichtenberg holds the map depicting the parcels of land being considered for purchase by the township.



BY LINDA SMITH HANCHARICK
The township will move forward with applying for grants to purchase nearly 100 acres of land on Weaver Road, adjacent to Norvin Green State Forest, as part of its open space program.

Earlier this month, Linda Gloshinski of the Land Conservancy gave a presentation to the council in favor of acquiring the property, called the Highlands Trail Connector Project.

The property is made up of two parcels and would provide passive recreation to residents as well as provide a buffer to the state-owned Norvin Green to the north and improve access to that public land.

“The development of trails on the property would provide a connection to the Highlands Trail, a federally designated national Millennium Trail, located approximately 2,000 feet north, and also serve to create loop hiking options where none currently exist,” said Gloshinski.

The property is forested with two small wetland areas and several rock outcroppings. One of the wetlands areas is headwaters to Apshawa Brook.

“Preservation will provide water quality protection to this trout production Class One waterway,” said Gloshinski.

The property has areas of steep slopes.

Gloshinski said the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Landscape Project mapping of the property has identified several threatened and endangered species on the property including bald eagle, bobcat, wood turtle and timber rattlesnake.

The property also provides a high ground water recharge, with approximately 60 percent of the property yielding 16 to 23 inches per year, with the remainder of the property yielding 11 to 15 inches per year.

Recreational assets
Don Weise, a member of the Open Space Advisory Subcommittee of the Environmental Commission, said the acquisition of this property would provide added recreation opportunities in the township.

“One of the frustrating things about the southern part of town is much of the land is owned by Newark Watershed,” said Weise. “You need a permit to hike there. This provides more room for recreation and parking.”

Another advantage to acquiring this property, Weise said, is that it is currently assessed as farmland.

“One of our objectives (on the Environmental Commission) is to keep in mind what contributes to the tax base,” said Weise. “This is assessed as farmland. They pay $500 in taxes.”

So, acquiring this property will remove $500 from the tax roles.

Little public comment
The few members of the public who spoke were concerned with parking near the property and the possibility of allowing ATVs on the property.

One neighbor just behind the property said he was concerned with public access and a parking lot. Gloshinski assured him the township was not looking to put a paved parking lot along Waver Road; but to develop natural spaces to get cars safely off Weaver Road.

Another resident was concerned with motorized vehicles being allowed on the property. Gloshinski said the township could prohibit that.

Funding
Gloshinski said the funding for the property, which is estimated at $430,000, would be sought through several means:

Green Acres grant, providing 50 percent of the cost

Passaic County Open Space Trust Fund, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey and the West Milford Open Space Trust Fun would supply the remaining 50 percent.

What are your thoughts about the township acquiring this property? Go to westmilfordmessenger.com and tell us.

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