The Township of Berkeley Heights is honored to have been selected as a recipient of a 2022 New Jersey Planning Officials' (NJPO) Achievements in Planning Award for our 2022 Master Plan. The NJPO will formally honor recipients at the annual NJPO Achievement in Planning Awards Breakfast on September 30.
The new Berkeley Heights Master Plan was adopted May 4 by the Planning Board; the Sherman Avenue concept plan to revitalize this corridor and make it more pedestrian friendly was presented to the Township Council on June 21, and was approved to move forward.
Click here to view the Sherman Avenue Concept Plan
“We knew we had a Master Plan to be proud of, given all of the hard work that went into this planning document and that feedback from the community was directly integrated into the plan,” said Mayor Angie Devanney. “The fact that it has now won an award is a testament to the dedication of so many who participated in its creation. Thank you to all who helped make this document finally come to fruition.
“Our town is growing, and we need to ensure we effectively plan out the preservation of open space, ensure a high quality of community facilities and infrastructure, continue to improve our downtown area and boost economic development, make it easier for businesses to set up – and stay – in Berkeley Heights, provide a welcoming community for residents of all diverse background and ensure we grow in a sustainable way that protects our tree canopy, protects against future overdevelopment and protects our recreational space. This Master Plan addresses all of those issues, and more."
“We are thrilled for Berkeley Heights to receive this recognition," said Keenan Hughes, principal planner with Phillips Preiss Grygiel Leheny Hughes LLC who navigated this master plan and wrote it for the Township. "It reflects the truly remarkable level of participation and dedication from so many Township officials, residents, business owners and local stakeholders who participated in this process. Berkeley Heights has a bright future and we look forward to working with the Township to follow through on its vision and implement the key recommendations of the Master Plan.”
The Master Plan outlines the community’s vision of its future and provides a roadmap to achieve it. At its core, the Master Plan provides the policy foundation to inform the Planning and Zoning Boards, Mayor, and Township Council’s decision-making on land use and development matters. It also serves as a guide for business owners, community groups, potential investors, residents and other stakeholders to understand how land use, transportation, natural resources and other factors will shape the built environment and quality of life of the community.
The 2022 Berkeley Heights Master Plan was developed over a timeframe of almost 3 years. The planning process involved close collaboration with Township administration and staff and incorporated input from various municipal departments, advisory committees and commissions, and community groups. Additionally, a Master Plan Committee was created within the Township Planning Board to steer the planning process. Throughout the course of the Master Plan project, the Committee guided the scoping of the Master Plan, served as community liaisons for public outreach efforts, and provided feedback on existing issues and opportunities, visions and goals, and recommendations and implementation strategies.
Sherman Avenue Transit Access Project
The Sherman Avenue Transit Access Project (SATAP) is part of the Township's 2022 Master Plan to develop Sherman Ave into a community Main Street that serves as a safe access walkway to public transit in the downtown.
The project will build upon the Township’s Safe Streets to Transit FY18 project that involved transit access improvements to adjoining Plainfield Avenue. This project, which the Township has preliminarily designed with the help of Arterial Streets, entails pedestrian improvements along Sherman Ave from Plainfield Ave to Lone Pine Drive that will enhance connections and pedestrian safety to the Berkeley Heights NJ Transit Station. Sherman Ave connects the train station with the rest of Downtown, complete with retail shops and restaurants. The train station, situated on Sherman Ave adjacent to the new Municipal Complex, serves as an important mode of public transportation to New York City through the Gladstone Branch of the Morris and Essex line.
The main goal of SATAP is to ensure these commuters and other commercial transit users have safe ease of access to the station given its proximity to residential and pedestrian areas as a mass transit node. Currently, the station can only be reasonably and safely accessed by car, which discourages and disallows more environmentally - or pedestrian-friendly transportation methods. At the east end of Sherman Ave, there is substantial residential development underway that will create an additional influx of traffic – and commuters - along this corridor. There is already traffic congestion along Sherman Ave during the day that reaches nearly two miles to Summit Ave. Plus, with commuter parking shortage, the Township wants to encourage these new residents to walk – not drive – to the train station.
The SATAP calls for the existing sidewalk segments on the northern roadside to be fully paved and connected from the new residential developments to transit, providing a safer, wider (8 feet) walkway that provides a larger barrier between vehicles and pedestrians. The Sherman Ave roadway will narrow with the pedestrian walkway expansion, thereby decreasing the number of vehicles that can utilize the road and improve overall pedestrian safety. New light fixtures will be installed adjacent to the sidewalk to improve pedestrian visibility at night. This pedestrian walkway is the centerpiece of the Township’s plan to make Sherman Ave more pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicle friendly and improve access to mass transit within the municipality; it will be a vibrant town center in which cars aren’t needed. There are a multitude of amenities with which this proposal will become
intertwined, which include Peppertown Park, the new municipal complex (which houses Township offices,
police station, recreation facilities and library), restaurants, salons, floral shops, holistic healing centers, wine
shops, the Berkeley Heights Shopping Center and more. Peppertown Park improvements will be enhanced by
the Township’s complementary FY23 NJDOT Bikeways request that will propose construction of a bike path, a
buffer, and other amenities along the park side of Sherman Ave. The Township also has financial commitments
from developers of the residential projects noted above for some of the planned Sherman Ave capital