Bordentown Township officials announced that they will re-examine their proposal to build a new municipal complex on designated open space after residents raised multiple concerns at a public meeting.
Bordentown Township Mayor Stephen Benowitz announced at a March 9 Township Committee meeting that officials have “stopped the process, completely” to divert approximately eight acres of land on 240 Crosswicks Road to allow the construction of a new municipal complex.
“I sat here and listened, with the rest of the township committee present, very carefully,” Benowitz said.
The announcement from the mayor came after municipal officials held a March 2 public scoping hearing to obtain public comment for the project’s open space designation proposal per regulation from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
More than 20 residents attended the meeting to voice their opinions on the matter, which included various concerns with the project such as noise, privacy, land use and safety.
Officials said the purpose of the meeting was not to take formal action on a decision to approve or field discussions about potential issues with the construction of a new municipal building, but rather to obtain public comment and suggestions on the proposed of diversion of designated open space in the township to potentially site a new municipal complex.
The proposed municipal complex would house the township police department headquarters in addition to a senior community center, according to officials. The original plan for the township included a Green Acres Diversion process for the removal of approximately eight acres of green acres recreation and open space land from the township’s Recreation Open Space Inventory while providing other open space lands greater than 16 acres.
Officials explained that the proposed idea for a new complex came about following a township municipal office space needs study prepared in October 2015 with an update in 2018. In the study’s findings, the township reported that the cost for renovation of the current municipal building on 1 Municipal Drive would be approximately the same as the construction of a new building.
Following more than an hour of public comment at the March 2 meeting where residents raised particular concerns with the proposed site if it’s approved for Crosswicks Road, the meeting was closed. Officials said they collected public comment on this diversion request until March 16.
During the March 9 committee meeting, officials also introduced a $17.4 municipal budget for 2020, which they said did not include funding for the proposed project.
“The 2020 municipal budget does not include the financing for the construction of a new municipal complex,” Benowitz said. “Residents can be assured that this budget does not give the committee the ability to award any contract or make any significant capital out-pay for a large-scale project.”
Officials noted that other township properties will be considered for the proposed municipal building in addition to the creation of a separate committee to discuss and work on the project.