Representatives of the Duke Farms Foundation, which owns 2,740-acres in Hillsborough, appeared before the Township’s Historic Preservation Commission last week to present the Farms’ proposed “LEED improvements, and Reuse and Renovation Project.”
According to their presentation and the paperwork on file in the Municipal Building, the applicant’s plans are generally broken down into several components:
The Farm Barn: This 23,000-square-foot building is to be renovated for use as the visitor orientation center and staff offices. Some modifications are necessary to meet current codes.
The Orchid Range: The renovation of this 12,000-square-foot greenhouse will allow its use as a horticultural education center with indoor display gardens and outdoor native plant gardens.
The Coach Barn: Improvements to this 21,000-square-foot building will facilitate its ongoing use for meetings, seminars, and conferences.
The Old Foundation: Restoring and creating walkways around the existing foundation and creating mown paths in the undeveloped area will allow passive recreation in this area, often referred to by locals as “the house that was never built.”
The Lake System: Environmental improvements to the nine lakes area will include wild meadows and aerators run by solar panels.
A solar panel installation is planned near the Farm Barn Building. Replacements, improvements and additions to some existing site utility and infrastructure systems will be made.
Duke Farms expects a gradual but significant increase in the number of visitors. Over the last ten years the annual numbers have varied from 15,000 to 50,000 visitors per year and they anticipate that the eventual increase will be limited to 150,000 annually.
While Duke Farms’ proposals allow greater access by the public, private vehicles will be restricted to the expanded parking areas and drop-off areas at the Farm Barn. Jitneys will transport visitors from the Farm Barn to a series of stops on the property.
Public access will be changed from the current entrance at Route 206 and Dukes Parkway East to an existing entry to the Farm Barn from Dukes Parkway West. There are concerns related to engineering deficiencies on Dukes Parkway West and the safety of the jitneys and pedestrians crossing from the proposed Farm Barn visitor’s center onto the grounds.
The Duke Farm application is on the Planning Board’s February 12th agenda.
For more information about Duke Farms click HERE.
For more information about LEED certifications click HERE.