Large open space purchased in Mine Hill!!!

Jason

JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
JORBA.ORG
I've been riding here for quite some time. I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that the town purchased the land and plans to preserve it and develop the existing trail network there.


Largest open space deal made
BY DAVID JIMENEZ
Correspondent


In the largest pay out for open space by a single municipality in the state, Mine Hill signed a contract last week for $12.4 million to acquire 200 acres of forest and wetlands, an area where iron deposits were discovered within the ridgeline that runs through the center of the town today.

Acquiring the acreage, formerly occupied by Dickerson Mine, one of the most prosperous mines in the nation, is the conclusion of more than three decades of effort by public and private organizations which worked together in holding off extreme land development pressure to build more than 800 units. This would have nearly doubled the town's population.

"Had the developers proceeded as planned, it would have devastated the character of Mine Hill because we would have experienced a major increase in people, traffic and the destruction of natural resources and history," said Barry Lewis, the township's administrator. "It was clear to us that the preservation of this open space was our number-one priority."

Mine Hill's Mayor Richard Leary echoed Lewis' remarks. "The fact that we are preserving these acres in the heart of Morris County is remarkable because you don't see land tracts like this available anymore in the county."

The bulk of the land acquired is bordered from Canfield Avenue to Green Road and extends from Route 46 to the city limits of Randolph Township, near route 10. In addition, a triangular-shaped piece of land was purchased adjacent to Canfield Avenue School.

The land was bought from Canfield Building Associates, a subsidiary of Westminster Realty. Funding partners who are providing the township with grants include a coalition of organizations consisting of the Morris County Open Space Trust, United States forest Legacies, Mine Hill's green acres and open space funds, Morris County Municipal Utilities authority, Morris County Park Commission and Morris Land Conservancy.

The 200-acre Dickerson property is occupied by thick forest, deep mine shafts and dense wetlands that support drinking water resources as well as a wide variety of wildlife, including the state-threatened wood turtle.

The acquisition of Dickerson Mine area is part of the New Jersey highland initiative, a designated preservation area that spans across Northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania and up to New York. The property is the cornerstone in the greenbelt system that links neighboring Roxbury Township's Triple Lakes greenway with Mine Hill's municipal greenway and Morris County's Hedden Park.

Mayor Leary said that future land-use plans include the addition of a recreational field on the property purchased adjacent to Canfield School and the development of recreational trails that will open the forest to public use.

the Dickerson Mine became active in the early 1700s when iron deposits were discovered. The mine produced iron ore that was used by American forces from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War.
 

Jason

JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
JORBA.ORG
Another article from the Daily Record

Developer curtails Mine Hill plan

Will build only 275 housing units on 50 acres

BY MARIA ARMENTAL AND DIANNE SOMMERS
DAILY RECORD


MINE HILL -- A developer plans to build only 275 housing units off Canfield Avenue instead of the 744 units previously proposed, since the township has agreed to buy most of the land at the site.

The 275 units to be built on 50 acres will be age-restricted and a concept plan to submit to the town already is in the works, Jeff Freireich, spokesman for the developer, Florham Park-based Kushner Co., said.

Plans to develop the tract had been proposed by various developers for about 30 years, and at one point a court ruling said 800 units could be allowed there.

The latest smaller development plan was worked out as part of the agreement to sell most of the land to the township, said Glenn Geiger, an attorney for the project, said Friday.

The township council unanimously approved a resolution this past Thursday to buy approximately 180 acres of the Canfield site for $12.4 million. The land will be purchased with state, federal and county grants, and will be preserved as open space.

"It's a great open space purchase for the community," Mayor Richard Leary said. He said it would maintain the character of Mine Hill and keep the township from becoming overgrown.

The entire site was 229 acres.

Under the agreement, Canfield Building Associates, a subsidiary of Kushner, retains the right to develop the remaining 50 acres "with a senior citizen housing development employing a townhouse or flat arrangement or a combination of townhouses and flats."

Any development would be subject to the necessary planning board approvals.

Lengthy negotiations

"This is the culmination of many, many years" of negotiations, Council President Marc Sovelove said at Thursday night's meeting.

"The build-out of the age-restricted housing will provide a funding mechanism for the school for many years to come as well as for the municipality,"Sovelove said.

The 50-acre parcel to be developed is at the southern end of the tract, near the Randolph Industrial Park, Leary said Friday.

Canfield also agreed to sell to the township an additional 17-acre tract located near the Canfield Avenue School.

The previous development application by Canfield called for as many as 744 units, to be a combination of townhouses and "stacked" units.

Discussions about developing the site began in the 1970s. Canfield Building Associates has owned the site since the 1980s.

Leary said that township officials have been working on plans to buy the tract for the past three years. He said surveys showed much of the land was buildable even if remediation was needed to fill old mine shafts that are on the property.

The larger development would have been a detriment to the town, Leary said. Because the new plan calls for age-restricted housing it won't increase the school population, but will provide tax revenue to support the school budget, he said.

The larger development that was proposed would have required knocking down all the trees, but now the 180 acres purchased by the township will be preserved as public open space and a water recharge area, the mayor said. Ball fields can someday be built on a small corner of land near the school but the rest of the acreage will be left alone, he said.
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
jay, how are the trails in there? i've driven by that stretch of land a ton of times and have wondered about it. what's the current trail situation like? if my memory serves, won't this be almost as big as the tourne?

edit: well, ok, 1/2 as big, but that's still enough for some good runs!!
 

Jason

JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
JORBA.ORG
bonefishjake said:
jay, how are the trails in there? i've driven by that stretch of land a ton of times and have wondered about it. what's the current trail situation like? if my memory serves, won't this be almost as big as the tourne?
I've been able to put together 6-8 mile rides with very minimal overlap. It's used heavily by quads and dirtbikes so the trails are pretty easy to follow. The trails come out right next to Marty's Randolph store. I'd say there are only 1 or 2 really good single tracks in there but they are rather long. The only problem I see is all the sink holes and mine related junk that is here and there.
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
gotcha. there is a lot of the same on wildcat ridge as far as the mines are concerned. there's also a lot more creepy stuff.
 

mergs

Spokompton's Finest
JORBA.ORG
this is good news for everyone... the last thing NJ needs is more housing in an already crowded state. open space is a treasure.

maybe marty's is interested in spearheading some official trail work with the town? might be nice to improve the network and reroute some of the quad double track through narrow trees, like a hb width wide, to create a choke to keep them off the single track :) thats about the only thing you can do, banning only works when you can patrol and enforce. the parcel sounds fairly compact so patrol might work but most likely no manpower in town to do it. the trails have to be purpose built, sniggle track so narrow and flowy that quads say screw that, that's no fun. this is what my proposal for JH (almost done) is going to propose.

keep us posted if anything happens. congrats on having some open space out your back door!
 

Jason

JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
JORBA.ORG
The Randolph Reporter
Canfield property preservation now sealed
06/09/2006

MINE HILL TWP. - Years of fears of development of more than 200 acres with hundreds of new homes off Canfield Avenue were officially ended on Wednesday, May 31. Officials from the township and Morris Land Conservancy met at the conservancy office in Morris Township and signed an agreement to preserve 200 acres that had previously been targeted for high-density development.


Under the agreement, Mine Hill will take ownership of more than 180 acres of the old Dickerson Mine site plus 17 acres adjacent to the elementary school on Canfield Avenue.

Township Administrator Barry Lewis said the cost of the purchase is $12.4 million, with all of the funds coming from federal, state and county grants.

The agreement avoids proposed development of more than 700 townhouse units on the site. Groups which participated in the plan to save the land include the Morris County Open Space Trust, Morris County Park Commission, and Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority; the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy program, New Jersey's Green Acres program; and the Morris Land Conservancy.

Mayor Richard Leary praised all those involved in helping Mine Hill. He said the deal was, "forever protecting the character of our community and ensuring that the township will not be overrun by development and increased school enrollments."

The proposed high-density development would have nearly doubled the number of homes in the small, approximately two-square mile community.

Leary also thanked Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-11, and former Senator and now Gov. Jon Corzine for their help in obtaining the federal funding.

"Today is the culmination of four years of work that the Conservancy and others have put into coordinating the negotiation and funding of this project," Morris Land Conservancy Vice President Gray Rogers said in a statement. "We are very pleased it is coming to a happy ending."

"It is remarkable that a tiny town like Mine Hill with 3,700 residents and an open space trust fund that generates less than $15,000 per year could be the leader in such a significant acquisition project," Rogers said. "This project highlights the regional value of continued funding from the Morris County Open Space and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, as well as county open space monies dedicated to the park commission and the MUA."

The Canfield Avenue property lies within the heart of the Highlands in Morris County and is considered a regionally significant water resource for the Raritan River basin. Preserving the land will help protect the headwaters of the Lamington River, a category one stream that runs through it. The land is also considered critical to several underground aquifers including the Alamatong Wellfield, the largest source of drinking water for Morris County residents.

The property contains mature forests, exceptional wetlands, endangered species, and historic remains including remnants of past mining operations and the railroads that were used to carry the ore to the Morris Canal.

From the 1700s through the early 1900s Mine Hill Township was the site of extensive iron ore mining operations. The property is filled with mines - including Lower Baker Mine, Canfield Mine, Dickerson Mine and Black Hills Mine.

"Preservation of this property ensures the stability of the landscape and topography for the township," the Conservancy statement said.

The Conservancy also said preservation of the property will provide a critical link in county and municipal trails, connecting Mine Hill Township with the West Morris Greenway into neighboring Randolph and Roxbury townships.

The property was owned by Canfield Business, a division of the Florham Park-based Kushner Companies. The agreement allows Canfield Business Associates to retain approximately 50 acres adjacent to the Randolph Township border where they plan to build 275 age-restricted townhouses or condos.
 
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Jason

JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
JORBA.ORG
Just a little update on the Dickerson Mine situation.

The Randolph Reporter
Mine Hill closer to the $800K for open space

By P.C.ROBINSON
Editor
Published: Sep 25th 2009, 8:02 AM

MINE HILL TWP. – Township officials could be nearer to obtaining $800,000 the government failed to pony up as part of open space acquisition money two years ago.


The township purchased the 200-acre Dickerson Mine tract on Canfield Avenue for $12.4 million in June 2007. Of that amount, $3.8 million was to have come from the federal government through the state’s Green Acres program. But only $3 million was issued, forcing officials in July to issue $800,000 in short-term bonds to complete the deal.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, Mayor Richard Leary said Trenton could soon be forking over the remaining dollars.

He said a Sept. 3 letter to grant consultant John Bruno from Green Acres Deputy Administrator Gary Rice indicated that payment was “contingent” on approval by the state’s Joint Budget Oversight Committee (JBOC).

That approval, however, may not come for a while. In his letter, Rice informs Bruno that, “As of the date of this letter we do not know when the next JBOC meeting will be scheduled. As this is an election year and the legislature is on summer recess, my best estimate will be after November.”

All the same, Leary remained upbeat at last Thursday’s council meeting, telling members they were “in the best position we’ve been in to date for the $800,000.”

The Canfield Avenue tract purchase was the largest open space buy in the township.

The money used for the purchase was a combination of federal, state, county and local funds, with Mine Hill contributing $50,000.

When $800,000 from a federal Forest Registry Grant filed to come through in time, officials made up that missing portion with the bond.

Meanwhile, the Council last Thursday approved resolutions to award contracts totaling $234,800 for various road improvement projects.

The projects, to be performed by Pave King of Roxbury, include reconstructing Florence Lane for $133,800; $40,00 for paving and drainage improvements on Colligan Lane, and $21,000 for paving Oakwood Avenue. Also approved was $30,000 in engineering costs for the three roads, and $10,000 for five new speed tables.

The money will come from the $250,000 officials bonded for the projects this summer.

Source
 

trailhead

JORBA: Wildcat/Splitrock
JORBA.ORG
So it looks like the town wants to keep this property. Usually towns don't want a bunch of non-rateable land and transfer it the the county or State. Bad thing about towns is that they are easlily crippled by liability and so if were to develop a trail network may follow neighboring Randoplh's lead and apply for a grant to pave trails in. Now is a good time for local representation to touch base with the town and find out what plans may be in the works. Contact the recreation department.
 

Jason

JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
JORBA.ORG
Jason are you riding ther now? Who will have control MCPC?:hmmm:
I ride there quite a bit but usually in the fall and winter. The area that I enter through gets very overgrown in the summer. Not sure who the Land Manager for the property is though.

So it looks like the town wants to keep this property. Usually towns don't want a bunch of non-rateable land and transfer it the the county or State. Bad thing about towns is that they are easlily crippled by liability and so if were to develop a trail network may follow neighboring Randoplh's lead and apply for a grant to pave trails in. Now is a good time for local representation to touch base with the town and find out what plans may be in the works. Contact the recreation department.
The property is very hilly so I don't see them being able to pave it. I called the town hall a few times about this and most of the folks I'm talking to seem to know nothing about the property of their plans. There was really nice single track that ran the perimeter of the property with the old Dickerson Mine road running right through the middle. Most of it was destroyed with they developed the commercial property around Aspen Ice.

I'll keep trying to get more information though.
 

goldsbar

Well-Known Member
So it looks like the town wants to keep this property. Usually towns don't want a bunch of non-rateable land and transfer it the the county or State. Bad thing about towns is that they are easlily crippled by liability and so if were to develop a trail network may follow neighboring Randoplh's lead and apply for a grant to pave trails in. Now is a good time for local representation to touch base with the town and find out what plans may be in the works. Contact the recreation department.

Randolph has some strange love affair with paving "trails". Far too many sections of the Randolph "trails" are actually pavement. Some of this was done just a couple of years ago. There's a couple of sections I understand where the trails are fairly steep and subject to erosion. Of course they could have done some rerouting but why do that when you can pave?!? Other sections really aren't that steep and didn't have any issues. They just paved them.
 

Rozack

Member
The two issues with the Randolph trails are they want to keep them easy for everyone too use. And they are maintained by the road dept and guess how they deal with erosion.:hmmm:
 
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