Lafayette Township confronts county's strategic growth strategy

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:50

    Lafayette-The final draft of the Sussex County Strategic Growth Plan was presented by Mayor Richard Hughes to the Town Council at its meeting Sept. 20. The plan, which was commissioned in 2000, has been in development for 4-1/2 years and is the result of a $300,000 grant to the County. Hughes is one of four mayors appointed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders representing the League of Municipalities on the Strategic Growth Plan Advisory Committee. Other organizations represented are the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce and various county departments, including planning, open space, and economic development. The group has been meeting for the purpose of aligning municipal plans with state growth plans as outlined in the State Development and Redevelopment Plan. The goal of the plan is that the county maintain its "unique character" within the framework of each landscape, an "area or community that is immediately identifiable." The landscape designations are: Rural/Agricultural, Highlands, Traditional Centers, Job Creation Centers, Parks and Wildlife Management Areas, and Lake Communities. Mayor Hughes said that the designations most pertinent to Lafayette involve Job Creation Centers, Rural/Agricultural, and Parks and Wildlife. The plan strongly encourages growth only in designated growth areas and discourages it outside those centers. Hughes noted that new strip commercial development will be discouraged, and existing strips will be renovated vertically and in depth along the lines of Olde Lafayette Village. Hughes stressed that "smart growth" is essential to the future of the township. Regarding the Parks and Wildlife Management Areas, the town's newly named Open Space Advisory Committee will meet to discuss the report. The Mayor is hopeful that the group will bring some new ideas for discussion and assured that these comments will be reflected in the final recommendations. The report states: "As transportation is a key to the County's long term economic viability and quality of life, it will be crucial for all levels of government and the private sector to work together to maximize existing assets." Hughes agrees that transportation will be necessary to accommodate the growth areas. The plan also stresses cooperation among the municipalities since "the County must function within a regional plan, no municipality can any longer exist…on its own." Hughes spoke of plans to join with Sparta and Hampton regarding an area already zoned light industrial along Routes 15 and 94. Mayor Hughes stressed that since there are expectations to have a growth area, it is important for Lafayette to be included in the plan. Each municipality has been given six weeks for comments and recommendations. The Land Use Committee and Open Space Advisory Committee will provide their recommendations to Township Committee for review.