Public Meeting on Salem County’s Future

A DIALOG ON FARMLAND PRESERVATION, OPEN SPACE CONSERVATION, AND TOWN CENTER REVITALIZATION
The Ware Building, 51 Cheney Road, Woodstown, NJ
(Two miles south of Woodstown off Rt. 45 behind Salem County Vo Tech School)

Meeting sponsored by Salem County Agriculture Development Board and Preservation Salem, Inc.

On Thursday, June 10th a public meeting will be held for all Salem County residents entitled “Salem County’s Future…A Dialog on Farmland Preservation, Open Space Planning, Town Center Revitalization, and Our Quality of Life.” This meeting, sponsored by the Salem County Agriculture Development Board and the non-profit county-wide, historic preservation group Preservation Salem, Inc. will engage County residents in a discussion of what they think Salem County’s future should be, how farmland preservation, open space planning, and town center revitalization can help the County meet its goals, and what options the County has to manage and finance these initiatives. This article is the first in a series of three meant to inform County residents regarding the topics of farmland preservation, open space planning, and town center revitalization prior to the upcoming meeting.

Farmland preservation, open space planning, and town center revitalization are three vital elements in “smart growth” planning. Smart growth, a movement in state and local government, strives to provide opportunities in a given municipality for many different land uses (whether they be housing developments, recreation centers, retail, industry, agriculture, preserved open space, or town centers), but seeks to balance these with less intensive uses of the land to ensure that all or almost all of the basic needs of the community’s residents are met.

For example, if all land in the County were converted to housing tracts, it would be difficult for residents to find jobs nearby, it would be very inconvenient to shop, and food would be more expensive because of the lack of local agriculture. If all of the land were used to create an uninterrupted urban environment, traffic congestion would be crippling, residents would be adversely affected by a lack of open areas to exercise and enjoy recreational activities, and the air, land, and water may become polluted. However, if all the land were preserved for farms, the population would remain very low, job choice would be limited to agricultural occupations only, and there would be few cultural, educational or vocational opportunities nearby. And if a farm, a housing development, and a town center were located in close proximity to each other, problems might arise. It is also critical for the municipalities, county and state to work together so that all programs, ordinances, and plans fit together like a well crafted puzzle.

A balance is necessary to achieve sustainable, prosperous, and attractive communities where the residents have the best possible quality of life and the opportunity to grow and develop. And, because everyone’s needs and priorities vary, it is up to the residents to determine what issues they consider most important to their quality of life, and how best to achieve a balance between them. It is this that we will be discussing at our June 10th public meeting. Come join us beginning at 7:00 pm in the Ware Building, 51 Cheney Road, Woodstown. We hope to see you there.