Letter to the Editor:
My family moved to Freehold Township in 1969 at a time when there were more horses than people here. A bicycle ride from our home on Kettle Creek to the 7-11 near Route 9 didn't entail crossing any major roads or being fearful of traffic. There was one traffic light at the corner of Stillwells Corners Road and West Main Street that went to flasher at 10 pm. Freehold Township was truly a country town.
At the time Route 9 was one lane northbound and one lane southbound. Route 537 was also only two lanes and old growth trees lined the road creating a canopy that shaded the homes, pedestrians and the roadway. Those old trees stood for centuries and were a testament to the character of the community. During their lifetime those trees witnessed pivotal battles in the American revolution, and were adorned with patriotic ribbons on the Forth of July. For hundreds of years those trees stood along the roadway guarding the farmland where today there is a car wash, a WalMart and a Sams Club. Freehold Township is losing its character and its soul to the onslaught of over-development.
Back in the 70s there was a sense of community in Freehold Township. Most people knew you or your family. Everyone felt part of a town that offered a warm embrace to new families as they trickled in and filled the new homes that were built at a measured pace. Back then developers built communities, not just houses. They preserved trees, planted new trees to replace those lost during construction, and set aside open spaces to preserve the quality of life for the community.
And back then the municipal government was transparent. If you had any questions, you picked up the phone and called the Mayor, or Fred Jahn, the Township Administrator. Fred was a treasure to Freehold Township. He was bright and talented and his goal was to assure the continued quality of life for Freehold Township's residents. That was the overriding goal of previous administrations.
Today the Township is being run not for the benefit of the residents, but for the benefit of developers. Forests are torn down with total disregard for a community that opposes more unrestrained development. Most recently, the wishes of an entire neighborhood was ignored by the members of the Planning Board and permission was granted to an opportunistic realtor to clear cut a forest in the middle of a 40 year old development. Obviously something has gone completely wrong.
When residents take the time to show up at a Planning Board meeting to protest the destruction of an acre of dense forest that defines the character of their neighborhood and their concerns regarding flooding and the high water table are given absolutely no weight, something is wrong. That forest was ripped down on Applegate Road this past week without so much as a notification given to the adjacent property owners and surrounding homeowners. That is irresponsible and heavy-handed government at work in Freehold Township.
And now we learn that the same kind of thoughtless destruction is about to happen again. The Freehold Township Committee is meeting tonight, February 28th at 8 pm to rubber-stamp a subdivision on Route 537 with plans to construct 250 homes on one of the last remaining farms in the area. They are voting to change the zoning from one house per two acres to four homes per acre!!!
The old Brock Farm sits on a part of the roadway that is already over-burdened due to the traffic going to Great Adventure and the Raceway Mall. The traffic at the corner of Route 537 and Siloam Road (Route 527) already backs up for more than a mile every evening due to traffic congestion. This new development and strip mall will also impact ambulances going to the CentraState Trama Center. And the Committee is trying to do this under the cover of darkness. Even with Public Access television available, their meetings are not televised.
This is simply an irresponsible Planning Board decision that the Township Committee is ready to approve this evening. It will completely change the nature of the community and the area.
The meeting is tonight at 8 pm at the Freehold Township Municipal Building on Stillwells Corners Road. Please attend this meeting and speak your mind. Please help put a stop to the destruction of Freehold Township's treasures.