The Mendham Township Planning Board ruled unanimously on July 15, 2015 that the ordinance proposed by the Township Committee to rezone the Pitney Farm property is inconsistent with the township’s Master Plan. The Township Committee’s proposed Ordinance 6-2015 calls for the Pitney property at One Cold Hill Road to be rezoned from a two-acre R-2 Zone to a 20,000-square foot R Zone, which would make it more attractive to developers. Trustees from the nonprofit Friends of Pitney Farm presented researched statements detailing the multiple grounds upon which the proposed ordinance was inconsistent with the Master Plan, including the stipulations relating to Community Character, Historic Preservation, Meeting Community Facility Needs, Land Use, Recreation and Conservation. Members of the packed room stepped up to the mic to support the saving of Pitney Farm and its repurposing to meet community needs.
The Master Plan identifies Pitney Farm specifically as one of the historic resources that should be saved and states, regarding both State and Township Land Use policy:
“The preservation and creation of Communities of Place is the central goal of the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan. Urban sprawl, especially since World War II, has greatly diminished the number of such communities in New Jersey. Mendham Township, together with the Borough, still remains such a community, a self-evident fact to residents and visitors. The Township retains its traditional historic rural character. Factors that contributed to this include the foresight of earlier Township officials establishing effective zoning controls which have been regularly updated since. The preservation of the traditional rural/historic character is the single most strongly held planning goal of Township residents. It should also be a central goal of Mendham Township’s development policies.” (pp 37-38)
Township planners unanimously found the proposed ordinance inconsistent with the Master Plan in that the plan dictates the Pitney property be kept as an R-2 Zone and that the township strive to preserve its historical elements. In the opinion of Township Planning Board attorney Edward Buzak, the proposed ordinance could only be made consistent with the Master Plan by amending the Plan. Buzak said the township could still pass the ordinance, despite the ordinance being inconsistent with the master plan. The Mendham Township Committee would have to pass the ordinance with a majority vote and pass an accompanying resolution explaining why it passed an ordinance inconsistent with the master plan.
The Friends of Pitney Farm welcome the ruling of the Mendham Township Planning Board regarding Ordinance 6-2015 and continue building partnerships and working with Mendham Township toward purchasing Pitney Farm and transforming it into a center for the arts and education to benefit the community.