Heritage Minerals Site
In 1978, by Federal legislation, approximately one million acres of land in Southern New Jersey was designated as the “Pinelands National Reserve”, but in 1979 when the New Jersey Legislature enacted the Pinelands Protection Act about 221,000 acres were not included with the boundaries of the “Pinelands Area”.
This area which is not under the protection of the State Pinelands Commission is considered the Pinelands/CAFRA overlap area. This Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) area is regulated by the DEP-Land Use Regulations.
[+ ZOOM] An aerial view of the Heritage Minerals Site. © PPA
Hovnanian Industries owns 7,000 acres of land in Manchester Township, purchased in 1984, called the Heritages Mineral Site. Approximately 3,000 acres are north of the Conrail Tracks, and within the Pinelands Protection Area, any development has to meet all the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) regulations. The remaining 4,000 acres are within the Pinelands/CAFRA overlap area and needs to meet DEP Coastal Regulations for development.
The Pinelands Commission assigned land management designations to both the Pinelands Protection Area and the Pinelands/CAFRA overlap area. The Heritage Mineral Site was assigned a “Forest Area” management to the 4,000 acre overlap portion of the site. Under the CMP this would allow for 1 house for every 15.8 acres of land.
[+ ZOOM] Map showing the extent of proposed Heritage Minerals development. © PPA
In 1995, Hovnanian Industries applied for a CAFRA permit to build 838 single family homes and 12,000 square feet of commercial development on 398 acres of the land they owned adjacent the Manchester Township High School. This number exceeded the density set by the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan.
During the review process the Pinelands Preservation Alliance strongly pushed to have the more stringent Pinelands CMP regulations apply to any and all development of the site. These regulations would protect the water quality and quantity of this large area and ensure protection of threatened and endangered species and their habitat.
On April 26, 1996, CAFRA denied this application on 14 major grounds which the applicant had not meet CAFRA regulations. Hovnanian filed an appeal the following month and litigation continued for many years.
In 2003, DEP Land Use Regulation, New Jersey Pinelands Commission and Hovnanian Industries reached a settlement to the ongoing litigation. Click here to read attached points of settlement agreement. Click here to review a map of the developable portions of the site under the agreement. Under the settlement agreement 6,178 acres are to be deed restricted (click here to view map).
In 2004, the State Planning Areas map was changed to reflect the court settlement. See attached.
More Development for the Heritage Mineral Site?
In July of 2014, Manchester Township Council passed Resolution #14-248 as an area in need of redevelopment. They made the finding based on a May 1, 2014 report completed by Thomas Planning Associates. Report below.
The redevelopment area being supported by the Manchester Planning Board and Council is for the entire 4,087 acres of the site located with the CAFRA area. This 4,087 acres goes beyone the approximately 1,000 map out in the 2002 settlement agreement by NJ Pinelands, DEP and Hovson's.
Manchester Township on March 9, 2015 passed Resolution #15-111 authorizing a second amendment to a Settlement Agreement that was signed with the Township on November 18, 2005 (to view click here).