Residents needed to advise on open space

The newly formed committee will have a hand in advising township officials on the future of township parklands.

   Wanted: Interested township residents to serve on the Open Space Advisory Committee. Must advise township officials on land acquisition issues and explore the development of open space for recreational use.
By: Lea Kahn
   That’s what Township Council is seeking, now that it has given final approval to form the nine-member advisory committee. The council adopted an ordinance creating the board at its meeting Tuesday.
   The Open Space Advisory Committee will consist of five township residents appointed by Township Council as at-large members, plus one representative each from the Planning Board, the Environmental Resources Committee, the Greenway Committee and the Recreation Advisory Committee.
   Residents who are interested in serving on the new advisory committee may contact the municipal clerk for applications. The office is open weekdays, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The deadline for filing is Feb. 15.
   Township Council expects to begin appointing the five at-large members at its Feb. 20 meeting. The representatives from the Planning Board and the other advisory committees will be appointed by the respective groups.
   The board and committee representatives will serve for one year. The at-large members will serve for three years. Initially, however, at-large members will have staggered terms. Two members will serve for three years, two will serve for two years and one will serve for one year.
   The Open Space Advisory Committee will make recommendations to Township Council about the acquisition of environmentally sensitive land, as well as property to be used for active and passive recreation.
   The committee also can make recommendations to the council regarding the development of parkland and assist in the development of the township’s open space plan.
   The committee also will make recommendations to the Planning Board about the conservation, community facilities and recreation elements of the township master plan when that is re-examined. State law requires the master plan to be reviewed once every six years.
   The creation of the Open Space Advisory Committee was suggested by Mayor Pam Mount during her inaugural address.
   In 1999 voters approved municipal open space tax that is set annually by Township Council. Last year, the open space tax was set at 1 cent per $100 of assessed value. It yielded $230,000. The money can be used to pay the debt service on municipal bonds and to buy, develop, maintain and improve land for public recreation and conservation.
   The open space tax has not been set yet by Township Council for 2001.
   The open space tax grew out of changes in state regulations. New Jersey has encouraged towns to adopt an open space tax by changing its administrative regulations for its Green Acres program. In order to be given priority for state Green Acres funds, towns must establish an open space tax.