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Allentown wants to work with Robbinsville to preserve Stein parcel

ALLENTOWN – Municipal officials in Allentown want to team up with their counterparts in neighboring Robbinsville to preserve an open space parcel.

During the Dec. 10 meeting of the Borough Council, officials passed a resolution supporting Allentown’s New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Green Acres Planning Incentive Program (PIP) grant application with Robbinsville for the Stein property.

The undeveloped Stein property is on North Main Street (Route 539/524). Portions of the property are in Upper Freehold Township and Robbinsville. Probasco Drive in Allentown is adjacent to the parcel. The land is near an exit from Interstate 195 to North Main Street.

In October, residents of Probasco Drive told council members they had seen surveyors working on the Stein property. The residents said they are concerned about the type of development that could be proposed at the site. The portion of the tract that is in Upper Freehold is in a Highway Commercial zone.

The Stein property is in what Allentown officials refer to as a greenbelt around the borough.

In its Dec. 10 resolution, the Allentown council said it “fully supports working cooperatively with Robbinsville to acquire the Stein property for open space acquisition and asks Green Acres to extend the PIP grant deadline so this acquisition may take place with the use of PIP grant funds.”

“We have neighbors talking to us about preservation and that’s a good thing,” said council President Thomas Fritts, who will become mayor in January. “There is a lot to be done on the Stein property.”

According to the resolution, Allentown made an application to the PIP in March 2017 for the purpose of open space acquisition in the Mercer-Monmouth greenbelt and later received notification of $500,000 available for open space acquisition through the PIP with an expiration date of February 2020.

Allentown representatives participated in a conference call with Green Acres representatives on Nov. 26 to determine what the status was on the borough’s PIP land acquisitions. At that time, officials clarified their intentions to work with Robbinsville to acquire and preserve the Wittenborn property on Allentown-Robbinsville Road, Robbinsville, according to the resolution.

Green Acres was unofficially in support of that action because Robbinsville had also received the same $500,000 PIP grant for the purpose of open space acquisition.

However, according to the resolution, Robbinsville has become aware of a contract on the Wittenborn property and has recommended redirecting the PIP funding to the preservation of the Stein parcel. Allentown is in support of redirecting its efforts to target the Stein property, which is also in the greenbelt.

Officials in Allentown and Robbinsville are waiting for the DEP to sign off on the request to redirect the funds toward the preservation of the Stein property.

Green Acres would be included in discussions of any acquisition moving forward so additional time is not wasted and additional time may be granted to both municipalities for use of the PIP grant funds, according to the resolution.

Fritts said the contract for the Wittenborn property in Robbinsville involves a business, but is not a warehouse.

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