HOWELL – Municipal officials are moving forward with the purchase and preservation of a 6-acre vacant property at 2822 Allenwood-Lakewood Road, Howell. The parcel is known as the Wainwright tract.
In September, Township Council members introduced an ordinance which set forth the proposed purchase of the property.
On Oct. 12, Deputy Mayor Thomas Russo, Councilman John Bonevich and Councilwoman Evelyn O’Donnell voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the ordinance. Mayor Theresa Berger and Councilwoman Pamela Richmond were absent.
O’Donnell praised the adoption of the ordinance and said, “Although it is less than 7 acres, any time we preserve property it is a real plus for Howell.”
According to the ordinance, a formal offer contingent on an environmental review of the land and property in the amount of $350,000, subject to adjustments for exact acreage, taxes and other closing costs, has been accepted.
Howell has $203,380 available for land acquisition as a result of the 2019 State House Commission approval for the diversion of parkland to support the New Jersey American Water Howell to Lakewood Transmission Main Project.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres program has advised Howell officials the Wainwright property represents eligible compensation land and that the $203,380 may be used to acquire the property and for incidental costs incurred by the township, according to the ordinance.
By using the $203,380, the property can still be preserved as municipal open space and would be listed on Howell’s Recreational and Open Space Inventory, and by using that funding, Howell designates the Wainwright property as compensation land which fulfills its obligation under the State House Commission approval.
Municipal officials said the remaining $147,000 needed to purchase the property will come from Howell’s open space fund.
Howell officials will reserve the right to acquire portions of the Wainwright property that are encumbered by rights-of-way with money from alternative municipal sources, not to exceed $17,500.
In other business on Oct. 12, a second public discussion regarding the potential operation of cannabis businesses in Howell did not take place as scheduled because the Township Council members needed to have an executive (closed) session that evening.
During the summer, Howell officials adopted an ordinance that prohibits all six types of cannabis businesses that may be licensed to operate in New Jersey from operating in Howell.
Those six types of businesses are cannabis cultivator, cannabis manufacturer, cannabis wholesaler, cannabis retailer, cannabis distributor and cannabis delivery service.
During a public hearing that preceded the adoption of the ordinance, some residents criticized the legislation as being a missed opportunity for Howell’s elected officials to set precedent and standards for cannabis businesses in the municipality.
In response to the residents’ comments regarding the ordinance, the council members said they would give residents a chance to discuss the issue in an open forum. The first public discussion took place on Sept. 14.
The second public discussion about cannabis businesses is now scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Nov. 9 in the municipal building. Any community member who wants to speak on the issue may address Howell’s elected officials at that time.