About Chester Township, NJ
Chester Township, New Jersey
Chester Township is a township in Morris County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township’s population was 7,838, reflecting an increase of 556 (+7.6%) from the 7,282 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,324 (+22.2%) from the 5,958 counted in the 1990 Census.
Chester Township is located about 40 miles (64 km) west of New York City and features Victorian-style homes and palatial estates. Throughout the year there are craft fairs, Victorian house tours during the holiday season, jazz concerts in the downtown park, and other community events. It was established by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 1, 1799, from portions of both Roxbury Township and Washington Township, based on the results of a referendum held that day. Additional territories were acquired from Randolph Township (in 1806) and Washington Township (1840 and 1853). Portions of the township were taken on April 3, 1930, to form Chester Borough, a separate municipality surrounded entirely by Chester Township. The township’s name is derived from Chestershire in England.
The earliest records of individuals settling in the area date back to deeds dated in 1713, for properties located near a point where two Lenape Native American trails crossed at an area called Black River. With the arrival of the Rogerenes in 1730, the area developed as an agricultural community, producing applejack, flax, and wool, as well as raising cattle. A burst of economic activity occurred starting in 1875 with the discovery of iron ore in the area, which led to the construction of dozens of mines, a blast furnace and many of the commercial and residential structures in the township date to that era. The discovery of far more abundant and productive mining sites in Minnesota‘s Mesabi Range ended that boom after nearly 15 years. Chester returned to its farming roots in the 20th Century.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 29.462 square miles (76.306 km), including 29.377 square miles (76.086 km) of land and 0.085 square miles (0.221 km) of water (0.29%).
Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Hacklebarney, Horton, Milldale, Milltown, Mount Paul, Pleasant Hill and Upper Ironia.
The township borders Mendham Township to the east, Randolph and Roxbury to the northeast and Mount Olive to the northwest and Washington Township to the west all of which are located in Morris County while Bedminster lies to the southwest and Peapack-Gladstone lies to the southeast they are both located in Somerset County.
|* = Lost territory in previous decade.|
At the 2010 United States Census, there were 7,838 people, 2,592 households, and 2,201 families residing in the township. The population density was 266.8 per square mile (103.0/km). There were 2,697 housing units at an average density of 91.8 per square mile (35.4/km). The racial makeup of the township was 93.31% (7,314) White, 1.05% (82) Black or African American, 0.03% (2) Native American, 3.50% (274) Asian, 0.01% (1) Pacific Islander, 0.54% (42) from other races, and 1.57% (123) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 4.35% (341) of the population.
There were 2,592 households, of which 43.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 76.5% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 15.1% were non-families. 11.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.27.
In the township, 30.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 16.3% from 25 to 44, 35.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44.4 years. For every 100 females there were 100.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.6 males.
The Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $162,188 (with a margin of error of +/- $17,186) and the median family income was $168,942 (+/- $15,109). Males had a median income of $147,109 (+/- $13,523) versus $67,647 (+/- $9,800) for females. The per capita income for the township was $77,787 (+/- $8,389). About 3.1% of families and 6.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.0% of those under age 18 and 0.9% of those age 65 or over.
Parks and recreation
The township’s parks and preserves are free and open to the public. Parks include:
- Chubb Park: an 85-acre (340,000 m) area with playing fields, skating, ponds, and sledding.
- Tiger Brook Park: Purchased with the assistance of the New Jersey Green Acres Program in 1980, this 270-acre (1.1 km) preserve contains a 10-acre (40,000 m) reservoir.
- Hacklebarney State Park: This 890-acre (3.6 km) park was established in 1924 with the donation of 32 acres (130,000 m). The Black River, which bisects the park, is one of the premier trout fishing streams in New Jersey.
- Black River Fish and Wildlife Management Area: This area consists of 3,020 acres (12.2 km) in the northern portion of the Township. It was purchased under the Green Acres Acquisition Program for recreational activities, including fishing, hunting, canoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking.
Development is highly constrained due to state and town ordinance. The entire Township is located in the New Jersey Highlands with approximately 86% of the land area designated as part of the more highly constrained Highlands Preservation Area. This environmentally sensitive area supplies drinking water to two-thirds of the state’s residents. In 2004, the state passed the Highlands Preservation Act to limit development. In 2005, 27 new homes were built and 16 in 2006.
Merger discussion with Chester Borough
In 2007, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine created incentives for municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants to combine with other communities. The goal is 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 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 NJ 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.
Governor Corzine’s plan to reduce or eliminate state aid had residents considering recombining towns. The two mayors publicly endorsed a cost/benefit analysis of a merger. However, a merger vote planned for November 2, 2010, was delayed until 2011 due to 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.
No limited access roads run through Chester, but they are accessible in neighboring communities, such as Interstate 80 in Roxbury and Mount Olive, and both Interstate 287 and Interstate 78 in Bedminster.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Chester Township include:
- Jim Breuer (born 1967), comedian.
- Alex Buzbee (born 1985), defensive end for the Washington Redskins of the NFL.
- Neil Cavuto (born 1958), Fox News Channel anchor.
- James Gandolfini (1961–2013), actor.
- Dave Levey, finalist on Hell’s Kitchen.
- Rick Porcello (born 1988), pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.