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Partnership seeks to preserve 240 acres in Hopewell


New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Photo by Lisa MacCollum
HOPEWELL TWP. - New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Mercer County, Hopewell Township, Hopewell Valley Citizens Group and seven additional public and private partners today announced an agreement to preserve 240 acres of forests and farmland. This land had been approved for 800,000 square feet of commercial office space and proposed for a high-density residential housing development.

The New Jersey Conservation Foundation, in conjunction with Hopewell Valley Citizens Group, secured a contract to acquire the land for $7.5 million from Equus Capital Partners, Ltd. of Yardley, Pa.

The purchase will end concerns about traffic impacts from many thousands of daily commuter trips through the region if the land was developed as planned. In addition, it will help eliminate the need to vastly expand the small historic crossroads at Mt. Rose.

Mercer County and Hopewell Township are slated to provide significant funding to ensure the project's success. A collaboration of all the surrounding municipalities: Princeton, Hopewell Borough, Lawrence Township, Pennington Borough; three local nonprofits: Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, D&R Greenway Land Trust and Friends of Princeton Open Space; and the State of NJ Green Acres Program will bring additional resources to the project. A private fundraising campaign has been launched to complement public funds.

The property straddles the former Western Electric campus on Carter Road, a scenic and environmentally significant gateway from the Hopewell Valley to the Sourlands in Hopewell Township. The property has been the subject of land use litigation for the past five years. Preserving the land will settle the lawsuit.

The land includes farmland, forests and tributaries of the Stony Brook, and is adjacent to other preserved farmland and open space owned by Hopewell Township and the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. Preserving this land will fill a key link in the Lawrenceville-Hopewell Trail, a major regional trail system in Mercer County.

Western Electric developed the property in the 1950s as the first corporate park in the nation. Subsequent owners included AT&T, Lucent and Townsend. The current owner purchased the property for large-scale development, with plans to replace farms and green space with residential streets and neighborhoods.

Major office/research buildings on the properties adjacent to the preservation site will be retained by the current owner for continued commercial uses.

We are thrilled to help secure this significant property for future generations and are extremely grateful to the many partners who are helping to make this possible.said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. I know how much people value their scenic landscapes, farms and forests, and this is a special part of Mercer County that touches thousands of citizens.

With the continued growth and suburbanization of Mercer County, we are driven by a strong sense of urgency to protect the remaining undeveloped lands - and especially interconnected lands and ecosystems - before more development makes preservation impossible,said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes.

The Mercer County Master Plan recognizes the importance of preserving land for human health and enjoyment, as well as the protection of water resources and natural habitat,Hughes added. Community residents and local officials have long understood that preserved green space is a significant contributor to the health, economy and quality of life of county residents.

Stephen M. Spaeder, Senior Vice President of Equus Capital Partner, Ltd., added, We are happy to be working with the NJCF toward completion of this transaction and applaud their efforts to date to identify funding partners. We look forward to the successful conclusion of this matter.

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