Allentown officials working with Robbinsville to preserve Wittenborn tract

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ALLENTOWN – Municipal officials in Allentown will team up with their counterparts in neighboring Robbinsville in an attempt to preserve an open space parcel known as the Wittenborn tract.

The decision amends an action that members of the Borough Council took in December.

Late in 2019, council members 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 preservation of 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 Stein parcel, which is near an exit from Interstate 195 to North Main Street. The portion of the tract that is in Upper Freehold is in a Highway Commercial zone, according to municipal officials.

However, during a council meeting on Feb. 11, Allentown officials voted to amend the December resolution and to change the focus of the immediate preservation effort to the Wittenborn property on Robbinsville-Allentown Road (Route 526) in Robbinsville.

Robbinsville-Allentown Road becomes Church Street in Allentown.

Asked why officials changed their immediate preservation focus from the Stein property to the Wittenborn parcel, Mayor Thomas Fritts said, “The change in properties was twofold. Interest in Stein was generic to show intent, but did not delineate between a number of lots and blocks (parcels).

“We are interested in preserving Stein on parcels located in Robbinsville or having those specific parcels designated as conservation by land use designation. I discussed this with the Robinsville Planning Board during their 2020 Master Plan Land Use Amendment meeting in January and they are reviewing.

“(The Allentown council) passed a resolution for the Wittenborn property to maintain discussions with Robbinsville that could be applicable to Green Acres funding. Our discussions continue,” he said.

In recent months, Allentown officials have discussed the efforts they want to pursue to preserve what is referred to as a greenbelt around the borough.

The Stein and Wittenborn properties are in the greenbelt on the borough’s borders and the goal of Allentown’s elected representatives is to prevent development from occurring at those locations.

Fritts has said it is important for Allentown to have a cordial relationship with its neighbors because “if people on our fringes don’t like us, they won’t work with us. Robbinsville has preservation interests and they are willing to work with us on preservation.”

Speaking about land preservation efforts during the Feb. 11 council meeting, the mayor said, “We have made quite a bit of progress with our neighbors. Things are looking good. We have a lot of cooperation going on.”