About Chester, NJ (Borough)
Chester, NJ is an excellent town to frequent in New Jersey. Only 20 minutes from the Somerville Circle, Chester almost has it all. Good shopping, fun places to eat – and a charming downtown worthy enough for almost everyone!
Keep in mind, once again – that this is another one of those circumstances (like Washington, for instance) where you have a borough inside a township.
Chester Borough is a small 1.5 square-mile municipality surrounded by the 30 square-mile Chester Township.
Chester Borough, New Jersey
Chester is a borough in Morris County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough’s population was 1,649, reflecting an increase of 14 (+0.9%) from the 1,635 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 421 (+34.7%) from the 1,214 counted in the 1990 Census.
Chester Township was established as a separate political entity on April 1, 1799, including the area of both the Township and the downtown settlement which came to be the Borough. The Borough of Chester was incorporated by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 3, 1930, based on the results of a referendum held on April 25, 1930, and is today a separate municipality surrounded entirely by Chester Township. The borough’s name is derived from the township, which was named for Chestershire in England.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 1.596 square miles (4.131 km), including 1.594 square miles (4.127 km) of land and 0.002 square miles (0.004 km) of water (0.10%).
The borough is completely surrounded by Chester Township.
At the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,649 people, 615 households, and 437.9 families residing in the borough. The population density was 1,034.8 per square mile (399.5/km). There were 647 housing units at an average density of 406.0 per square mile (156.8/km). The racial makeup of the borough was 90.78% (1,497) White, 1.03% (17) Black or African American, 0.49% (8) Native American, 2.30% (38) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 3.21% (53) from other races, and 2.18% (36) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 13.46% (222) of the population.
There were 615 households, of which 34.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.0% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.8% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the borough, 27.5% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 21.0% from 25 to 44, 28.7% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.1 years. For every 100 females there were 97.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.
The Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $86,705 (with a margin of error of +/- $12,175) and the median family income was $133,250 (+/- $8,752). Males had a median income of $84,167 (+/- $38,424) versus $50,341 (+/- $9,122) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $48,565 (+/- $4,792). About 0.0% of families and 2.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.0% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.
Merger discussion with Chester Township
In 2007, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine created incentives for small towns of less than 10,000 inhabitants to combine with other cities. The goal was to reduce the overall cost of government and thereby offer some tax relief. “New Jersey has 21 counties, 566 municipalities, and 616 school districts, and property taxes average $6,800 per homeowner or twice the national average.”
Chester Borough had originally split from Chester Township in 1930 over the creation of sewer and water infrastructure in the more densely settled center of the municipality. The residents of the rural portions of the Township did not wish to financially support the construction and maintenance of a public sewer or water utility. Since that time rural Chester Township has relied upon individual private wells for water and septic systems for wastewater treatment while the Borough is primarily, although not entirely, served by public sewer and water. Concerns over the extension of utilities into the rural Township with the resultant potential for large-scale growth served as an impediment to consolidation. The prohibition of utility extensions supported by the New Jersey state plan and codified in the Highlands Water Protection Act, along with the development restrictions contained in the Highlands Act have lessened those concerns. Additionally, an aggressive land conservation program in the Township has resulted in over 40% of the 29-square-mile (75 km) Township being placed into permanent preservation, further lessening worries about potential overdevelopment. The two municipalities currently share a common K-8 school district, volunteer fire department, library, first aid squad and other municipal services. Residents are concerned about the unknown costs of a merger and a disproportionate allocation of those costs.
The two mayors had publicly endorsed a cost-benefit analysis of a merger. Two past efforts failed so the towns are taking a slow and deliberate approach to determining the savings if any.
A merger vote planned for November 2010 was delayed for at least a year after Governor Christie’s elimination of equalization funds that would ensure some taxpayers do not pay more due to the merger, as an analysis by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs estimated that township residents would see an annual increase of $128 on their property taxes while those in the borough would see an average decline of $570 in their taxes.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 12.06 miles (19.41 km) of roadways, of which 8.37 miles (13.47 km) were maintained by the municipality, 2.58 miles (4.15 km) by Morris County and 1.11 miles (1.79 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Chester Borough include:
- Lois Barker (born 1923), utility player who played for the Grand Rapids Chicks of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the 1950 season.
- Alex Cable, optical engineer, inventor and entrepreneur who founded optical equipment manufacturer Thorlabs in his paren’t basement in Chester.
- Lester H. Clee (1888-1962), clergyman and politician who served in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature and served as the Mayor of Chester.
- Larry W. Maysey (1946-1967), United States Air Force Pararescueman who was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, the Air Force’s second-highest decoration.