Issue #9           

Winter 2005           


The Basin Bulletin   
Newsletter for Stakeholders of the Raritan Basin Watershed    



Economic Growth and Environmental Stewardship at Spruce Run

The Route 31 and Route 173 highway corridors represent a tremendous potential for economic growth in the Spruce Run region. Unfortunately, this growth potential also represents a significant threat to the water quality of the reservoir. With these issues in mind, the New Jersey Water Supply Authority teamed up with the Townships of Bethlehem, Lebanon and Union and High Bridge Borough to secure a grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions to explore ways to accommodate reasonable growth while protecting the environment.

From January through May the staff of NJWSAs Watershed Protection Unit working with the Environmental Planning firm of AKRF, Inc. and member municipalities of the Spruce Run Initiative collected and analyzed data on local land use, economic trends, and watershed protection practices. The project team also hosted a series of public meetings, workshops and roundtable sessions to receive input from town leaders, environmentalist, businesspeople and area residents. The result of the study, entitled Spruce Run Initiative Corridor Study is a series of recommendations offered to local communities, which help guide future growth in an environmentally responsible manner.

Recommendations are organized into two categories: watershed scale and site scale. At the watershed scale the study encourages redevelopment and growth in the existing town centers at Clinton Town, High Bridge, and Glen Gardner. The study further recommends reducing the land available for commercial growth overall, thereby limiting the potential for sprawl type development. This could be achieved by limiting future development to cluster nodes at West Portal, exits 11, 13 and 15 of I-78, Glen Gardner, and the flats in High Bridge. At the site scale the study offers recommendations to improve local stormwater management, protect on-site environmentally sensitive lands, reduce impervious surfaces, and foster good site design.

The pursuit of regional studies, which recognize the needs of individual communities and result in proactive environmental improvements, is a founding principal of the Spruce Run Initiative. The watershed protection unit of the New Jersey Water Supply Authority is developing similar partnerships in the Raritan-Highlands region, the Somerset region and elsewhere in the Raritan Basin.


                                                                                                            -Bob ONeil, PP/AICP

Watershed Protection Specialist

NJ Water Supply Authority



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