Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fire Commissioners Vote Results

Congratulations to the 430 Hillsborough residents who voted in the 2009 Board of Fire Commissioners elections.

The proposed $1.5 million fire commission budget passed 351-54. Additionally, voters approved the purchase of new portable radios, mobile radios and base stations with a cost to not exceed $500,000 by 331-78 and authorized sharing the purchase of a new tanker truck with Neshanic Fire Company for an amount to not exceed $212,500 by 322-86.

The two three-year open positions on the Board of Fire Commissioners went to incumbent Robert Uniszkiewicz and newcomer Greg Kane.

The vote totals for the five candidates for commissioner were Gary Chapman - 51, Greg Kane - 236, Mohammed Khashab - 95, Nick Speciale - 149, and Robert Uniszkiewicz - 165.

Thank you to all the candidates for your time and interest in the Board in addition to your years of service as volunteer firefighters.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, George Washington

Mr. Washington, here are several photographs of your time in New Jersey that I hope you will enjoy:

Revisiting Rockingham where you and Mrs. Washington stayed several times during the war...

Visiting Somerset County with the genteel Martha Washington...

Arriving at Morristown Green...

Addressing the troops on the banks of the Delaware River...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Adesa in Hillsborough - Temporarily?

Adesa New Jersey, LLC, the used-car auction company with acres of cars located in Manville behind the movie theater, apparently has run out of room to store their inventory and has come to Hillsborough with their overflow until they can complete additional storage space in Manville.

The Board of Adjustment approved Adesa’s application to store up to 1,265 vehicles at the former GSA postal warehouse site now owned by the Somerset County Improvement Authority.

Adesa has leased the 15.71-acre site at 360 Roycefield Road for one year from Somerset County with the option to extend the lease for a second year if their Manville expansion is not complete.

The Hillsborough site work includes perimeter chain-link fencing, snow fencing around the cars to decrease their visibility, and a security trailer with some minor related utility and other improvements. The cars will be parked on the remaining floor and foundation of the former postal warehouse. There will be no onsite work done on the cars and no fuel storage. Access will be through the existing drive, there will be no additional signs, and the operating hours will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

According to the Adesa experts, there should be 30 to 50 road trips a day to the Manville auction site, that is, up to 50 cars out and 50 cars in, each being driven by an Adesa employee. The main route will be Roycefield Road to Dukes Parkway West to Route 206 North and then onto Dukes Parkway East into Manville.

As the lot is not public parking, but vehicle storage, the BOA approved variances for such items as parking space size and aisle width. The Board stated that they would prefer that car carriers not be used, but the applicant did not want to be limited.

While it was pointed out that this lease would provide a revenue stream to Somerset County, what about Hillsborough? As the site will be used for commercial purposes is there any way that property taxes can be collected to offset the increase in emergency services, the increased wear-and-tear on township roads, and increased traffic?

I don't understand the entire concept of the car inventory increasing: the cars come in, the cars are sold, the cars are removed. Right?

BTW, when is the Board of Adjustment going to be videotaped and shown on Channel 25 like the PB and TC?

For more information on Adesa go here.


Today is the election for two three-year seats on the Board of Fire Commissioners, the proposed $1.5 million budget, and two additional spending questions regarding updated radios and a new fire truck.

The information provided on the Township website is pretty sparse, but at least it provides the time (2 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and locations for voters.

The Hillsborough Beacon's article tells you everything you should know before voting.

The Courier has a story this morning covering fire commission elections in districts across at least three counties, but, as usual, finding the article online just wasn't worth the work required...although I did find a brief commentary.

Even if you don't have a real interest in the specifics, it's nice to show our volunteer firefighters that you are interested in them and the work they do. And voting on budgets gives you the right to grouse later.

Regarding the proposed purchase of a fire truck by Hillsborough and Neshanic Fire Company (Branchburg): Congratulations to our fire companies on sharing equipment without going through all the politics and who belongs to what party...etc.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Hillsborough’s proposed Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) plan was presented before the Planning Board on December 4, 2008, by the township’s affordable housing development consultant Jennifer Beahm of Birdsall Engineering.

The Hillsborough Beacon posted a comprehensive article about the plan, which was as clear as can be expected when explaining COAH.

The Planning Board approved Ms. Beahm's proposed COAH plan and referred it to the township committee for favorable action.

The last week of December, Ms. Beahm again presented her plan, this time to the committee which approved the plan, which had to be submitted by the December 31, 2008 NJ Department of Community Affairs Council on Affordable Housing deadline.

I fully expected residents of the areas surrounding the three proposed COAH projects to attend the Township Committee meeting at the end of December to ask/interrogate township officials about the hundreds of COAH units, retail buildings, and hotel being proposed contiguous to their homes.

Residents obviously had multiple chances to educate themselves on the COAH proposals and two chances to comment before their elected officials, but (as far as I could tell from watching the TC meeting on TV) not one person asked a question or commented when they were given the chance.

Sometimes it must be very discouraging to be a township official, to put so much effort into something like this and get no feedback. As much as you would like to believe that that is because the plan is so brilliant and clearly explained, you know that when the proposed COAH projects start going before the various boards and commissions, suddenly outraged citizens will come out of the woodwork to complain that they didn’t know anything about it.


So, one more time:

The Township’s affordable housing consultant Jennifer C. Beahm summarized her recommendations for the township’s required Housing Plan Element and Fair Share Plan, identifying projects and programs that would yield Hillsborough’s 650 required units.

According to her presentation, there are 168 affordable housing units in existing and approved projects. Additional units will be provided in three proposed new projects referred to as Amwell Road East, Amwell Road West, and Route 206.

The Amwell Road East project is located on 10-acres just east of Pineywoods Drive and would contain 108 affordable family rental units.

The Amwell Road West development, located on 29.3-acres west of Eves Drive, would include 85 market rate units, 24 special needs rental units and 20 affordable rental units.

The third project on Route 206 north of Partridge Road would have 352 market rate units, 138 affordable units, 20,000-square-feet of retail space and a 130-room hotel on 50-acres.

Additionally the Market to Affordable Program will provide 6 units, there is a rental bonus of 162 units, and there is a 19-unit Rehabilitation Requirement obligation.

For more details you can view this summary or Ms. Beahm’s power point presentation.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Overdoing Downsizing ?

Now that we are somewhat voluntarily semi-retired, we occasionally consider whether we should downsize.

Recently, while driving through a nearby Mayberry-style town, we went a block off the main drag to see what it looked like. There was a smallish house, a cape cod, on a nice lot, with a “For Sale By Owner” sign and a box with information in it.

Aha! A downsizing possibility.

Reading the information sheet, we saw that the house had one bedroom less than ours, a half-bathroom less than ours, and was cheap enough that we would have some money to sock-away after selling our current home. It was within walking distance of Main Street and had two of its bedrooms on the first floor.

The taxes weren’t that much less, but it had to be cheaper to heat and easier to clean than our current home, so after we got home we examined the details on the sheet.

The garage was only one-car, but we figured as we moved further into retirement and cut down on our driving we would only need one car. The two storage sheds seemed like overkill until we realized there was no basement. The HVAC system – using the word "system" loosely - was an amalgamation of oil, central air, and window air conditioners.

Two of the "bedrooms" were smaller than our master-bedroom closet. The kitchen was 90-square-feet and as we studied the stove in the little picture we realized that it was tinier than the one we had in our vacation trailer.

Sometimes the devil is in the details. We decided we weren’t quite ready to downsize that much and lucky enough not to have to. Yet.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Duke Farms: Into the 21st Century

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.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Historic Route 206 and Raider Blvd.

Interstate Development Services appeared before Hillsborough’s Historic Preservation Commission last week to “discuss the preservation plan for the relocated Dittmars/Polhemus Barn and the one-story Carriage House”. If this doesn’t ring a bell with you, it’s the construction site at the corner of Route 206 and Raider Boulevard – the one that was previously to contain a CVS and currently is slated to be a Walgreen’s.

According to Interstate’s historic preservation specialist, the two-story 5,000-square-foot barn, which has been moved to the rear of the property, will be stabilized and weatherized until its new purpose is determined, at which time it will be rehabilitated.

The Carriage House – the small building on Route 206 – will be restored to its 18th century beginnings. The shed on the highway side, according to Interstate’s architect, was added about 1920-1930 and he is suggesting that it be removed; as a plus, the Carriage House would be a little further back from traffic. The architect and two members of the commission will make the final decision about the shed after further investigation.

There was some discussion about fixing water drainage problems around the Carriage House.

As an aside, the commission members requested that the developer stop storing materials inside, stop leaning materials against the building, and correct the security problem at the Carriage House - i.e. shut the doors. The Interstate representative [who seemed to be the only person in the room who wasn’t aware of what was occurring] said he would remedy these problems.

Walgreen’s Store is aiming for a May or June opening (“even with a TCO”?).

The meeting was on January 29th. As of February 3rd the Carriage house doors were still not secured; they weren’t even closed.

For photographs of this site, go HERE.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Winterguard Competition

The Hillsborough High School Winterguard hosted its Ninth Annual Winterguard Show this past Saturday.

Here is the Hillsborough team...

...and their "roadies"...

For many more pictures of this exciting competition Go to this link