Council to offer help to local businesses

EDC official encourages cross-selling and commercial awareness


Staff Writer

UPPER FREEHOLD — The new township Economic Development Committee (EDC) will concentrate on identifying and marketing existing businesses in town, in its first full year in existence.

The committee’s plans include sending letters to all local businesses introducing its members, talking about initiatives and conducting a survey to see how to best help existing businesses.

EDC Chairman Tim Lizura, who is the director of real estate development for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, said the EDC would like to concentrate on bringing in agricultural-related industries and ones that can complement the agricultural industry, as well as convenience-oriented retail businesses.

The farming community needs certain agricultural-based service providers, he noted, and if those businesses are squeezed out, it will make farming more difficult.

Lizura called it “supporting the support industries.” As for the promotion of the equine industry in the township, he observed that two EDC members, Dr. S. Perrine Dey and Barbara Isaac, are trustees of the Horse Park of New Jersey.

Township Committeeman Stephen Alexander, who was a driving force behind the creation of the EDC, agreed that the agricultural businesses need support so they can remain in the township.

He sees opportunities in marketing produce to New York and Philadelphia. Alexander also would like to see smartly zoned, clean ratables.

Lizura also said the EDC may focus on cross-selling and commercial awareness — for example, by having the Happy Apple Inn serve wines from the Cream Ridge Winery.

“We want to make sure the town is business-friendly,” Lizura said.

Lizura believes having open space near a highway interchange, such as the parcel that was recently preserved near Exit 8 of I-195, is not the best use of resources.

He said that commercial development would be suitable along sections of routes 539 and 537 and at the two interchanges with I-195, one at Exit 8 and the other at Exit 11 at Cox’s Corner.

Using such highly desirable land with economic development opportunities for open space, he said, uses up open space resources and hampers future revenue sources,.

Lizura hopes the EDC will look at the zoning issue and believes the township needs a well-thought-out plan for commercial, industrial and nonresidential zoning, such as warehouses, offices, retail space and lodging. Much of the zoning in the areas he thinks are appropriate for commercial development is currently zoned agricultural/residential.

“The township should put open space where appropriate and commercial/industrial [development] where appropriate,” he said.

Former Township Planner Richard Coppola was scheduled to come before the EDC in January to discuss commercial zoning, but since he resigned, the EDC will have to wait until another planner is hired.

When asked what the EDC may do to help the horse-racing and breeding industry, Lizura said the committee is not dealing with the issue of video lottery terminals (or VLTs, which are more commonly known as slots) at racetracks, but the EDC is supportive of the idea.

The racing industry is in favor of slots at tracks, as slots would likely upgrade the purse structure and make New Jersey racing competitive with neighboring states that already have VLTs. Upper Freehold may be the premier area in the world for the breeding of standardbred racehorses, with some of the top sires in the sport standing at stud here.