In May 2019, West Windsor resolved its Third Round Affordable Housing Plan by projecting to build 3,396 new residences by 2025. These new homes will increase West Windsor population and taxes by 34%.
In addition, and not included in our Third Round Affordable Housing Plan, recently one developer—WWM Properties West—proposed to build 400 100% affordable family housing unit on a 21.50-acre parcel of land in the Heatherfield neighborhood across Route 571 from the Southfield Shopping Center.
Even though West Windsor has been a model township in fulfilling our affordable housing duties—by 2025, 11% of West Windsor’s housing units will be the affordable housing units—the pressure to build more residential units is continuously present.
Soon, we will need to plan for our next round of affordable housing obligation in 2025.
Currently, West Windsor has more than 500 acres of unpreserved farmland, which is the same size as the Howard Hughes Property.
These pieces of developable lands will be factored into the calculation for our 2025 affordable housing obligation, sentencing West Windsor with more affordable housing unit share than other build-out towns. In addition, most of the farm owners are at the retirement age, and it is quite likely that their farmlands will be sold to developers in the next 10 years. In fact, three farms with a total of 130 acres have active offers from developers.
Preserving the remaining open spaces in West Windsor, which are mostly farmlands, is the best way to slow down residential overdevelopment while retaining our agricultural beauty and tradition, protecting our water and soil, and balancing our economic forces.
As a council member, I will work with the township to aggressively preserve farms with the largely available funding from the State, County, our open space taxes and private sources.
The good news is that we have just recently preserved the 8.5-acre Censoni property on Clarksville Road facing the municipal complex and the 120-acre Hall property on Village Road East.
Who is going to farm these lands after we preserve them? Of the 12 individual farm owners I have spoken to in West Windsor, only two have their children/grandchildren interested in continuing farming activities. While farming has become a new trend in America, and New Jersety does have young farmers West Windsor just hasn’t had our share yet. Eleven of these unpreserved farms are smaller than 50 acres, perfect for a young farmer to start. As a council person, I will try to bring in new farmers while preserving the farmlands.
Yan Mei Wang
Wang is a candidate for West Windsor Council.