Preserving What Makes Long Hill Township Special
The 1996 Master Plan Introduction captured why so many of us care so passionately about our town:
“In many ways, Long Hill Township is a rural oasis in a region otherwise dominated by suburban residential tract development, highway commercial uses, and interstate highways. ... Long Hill's vast open space network, its tree-canopied streets, wetland areas, river corridor, and sweeping topographical characteristics combine with its secluded residential areas and varied commercial districts to form one of the most unique municipalities in the region.”
The 2016 Master Plan being developed by the Master Plan Committee looks backwards in specifically identifying, celebrating, and seeking to preserve and enhance the qualities above that make this township special.
At the same time, a Master Plan needs to look forward ten to twenty years in analyzing and responding to the changes taking place within the township, its surrounding communities, and the State.
Baby Boomers and Millennials
We all know New Jersey is an increasingly expensive place to live. That financial strain is felt most strongly by two demographic groups at either end of the spectrum: Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) and Millennials (born from 1980 to 2000).
The percentage of Baby Boomers within the overall population grew by 38.2 percent between 1990 and 2012, compared to 26.2 percent growth in the population overall. The Census Bureau projects that by 2030, 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65, up from 13.8 percent today and 12.6 percent in 1990. And the number of people 85 or older is projected to triple from 2015 to 2060. America’s 80 million Millennials, contrastingly, already form the largest the largest cohort of American workers, and will make up half the workforce in just five years.
But Long Hill Township has little in the way of reasonably-priced housing to accommodate either of these groups. We are ill-equipped to appeal to senior residents who may wish to retire in place and move to less-expensive, age-appropriate housing. Nor are we an attractive community for cash-strapped Millennials whose housing preferences strongly emphasize equally less-expensive housing, in walkable mixed-use neighborhoods, rather than the automobile-dependent residential enclaves that characterize “Suburban Sprawl.”
The 2016 Master Plan needs to address these challenges. In the coming months we will be engaging the Long Hill Township community through this website and public meetings to identify ways to preserve the predominantly low-density residential character of Long Hill Township while also helping ensure that the township can continue to be an economically attractive, sustainable place for existing and for new families to live and raise families.
For information on the issues confronting Long Hill Township and the rest of New Jersey, see the articles in www.njfuture.org.