Town of hammonton atlantic county



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TOWN OF HAMMONTON

ATLANTIC COUNTY

NEW JERSEY

OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION PLAN

(OSRP)


DECEMBER 2008

REVISED SEPTEMBER 2009

Prepared For:
The Town of Hammonton

100 Central Avenue

Hammonton, New Jersey 08037
Prepared By:

Adams, Rehmann & Heggan Associates, Inc.

850 South White Horse Pike

Hammonton, New Jersey 08037-2019

Telephone: (609) 561-0482

Telefax: (609) 567-8909

COA# 24GA27973300


ARH #11-75001

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE
1.0 REPORT INTRODUCTION 1
A. ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT 1

B. PINELANDS JURISDICTION / OPEN SPACE IMPLICATIONS 3

2.0 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 6

3.0 GOALS AND POLICIES 8

4.0 OPEN SPACE / RECREATION FACILITY INVENTORY 10

5.0 MUNICIPAL NEEDS ANALYSIS 18

6.0 RESOURCE ASSESSMENT 25

7.0 IMPLEMENTATION ACTION PLAN 28

8.0 GENERAL OPEN SPACE SYSTEM MAP 29

9.0 ADDITIONAL PARCEL / DATA REQUIREMENTS 30

10.0 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PROCESS 31

11.0 PLAN ADOPTION 32

12.0 PLAN SUMMARY 33

13.0 RECOMMENDATIONS 34



TABLE OF CONTENTS

(Continued)


APPENDICES
A. Community Open Space / Recreation Plan Map – Existing / Proposed Conditions

B. Hammonton Lake Park

2007 Aerial Photograph

Conceptual Design Plan

C. Boyer Avenue Recreation Complex



2007 Aerial Photograph

Conceptual Design Plan

D. Open Space / Recreation Needs Survey – Questionnaire / Online Questionnaire – Tabulated Results

E. Community Demographic Information

F. Atlantic County Municipal / Open Space Financial Assistance Program Description

G. Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping of Potential Acquisition Parcels

H. Public Notice Advertisements
1.0 REPORT INTRODUCTION
This 2008 Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) has been compiled for the Town of Hammonton, Atlantic County, New Jersey utilizing the generalized format recommended for use by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Green Acres Planning Incentive Program. It represents a comprehensive approach in assessing the Town's projected passive and active open space and recreation facility needs. It incorporates an inventory of existing open space resources, and examines current Community demographics and recreational trends in attempting to implement a proactive program to meet Community needs.
In order to depict clearly the location and extent of lands currently set aside within the community by various governmental entities for passive open space and active recreational uses, a Geographic Information System (GIS) generated graphic has been attached in Appendix A of this report. This same graphic has then been enhanced in order to display lands proposed for enhancement or acquisition in order to meet projected active recreational needs and/or to preserve and protect critical ecological resources within the community.
This OSRP represents an update of the 1998 Open Space and Recreation Plan completed for the Town. This earlier plan contained a number of specific recommendations, the majority of which have been carried out at this time. Salient recommendations included in this earlier plan and now implemented include:


  • cooperation with Atlantic County in a funding partnership aimed at the acquisition and enhancement of open space and active recreation resources within the local community;




  • retention of a full time Recreation Director to administer active recreation facility use, implement site and facility maintenance and coordinate community special events;




  • planning, design and development of additional active recreation amenities at the Town's ±180 acre Boyer Avenue Recreation Complex.


A. ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
The Town of Hammonton is located in the northwestern corner of Atlantic County, bordered by Burlington County on the northeast and Camden County on the northwest. Situated between latitudes 39° - 35' and 39° - 42' north, and between longitudes 74° - 40' and 74° - 52' west, the nearly rectangular shaped Town covers nearly forty-one (41.3) square miles, measuring approximately 4.3 miles by 9.8 miles. Hammonton shares boundaries with the Burlington County Townships of Shamong and Washington on the northeast, with Atlantic County Townships of Mullica and Hamilton on the southeast, with the Borough of Folsom on the southwest, and with the Camden County Townships of Winslow and Waterford on the northwest.
Topographic features of the Town of Hammonton are characteristic of its physiographic region, the outer portion of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The surface topography can be described as gently undulating to level. Few slopes can be considered even moderately steep. The most prominent topographic feature in Hammonton is the Mullica River's extensive lowland network of tributary creeks, streams, swamps and boggy wetlands, particularly in the northern two thirds of the Town. The Mullica River segment between Route 206 at Atsion in Burlington County and Route 542 at Pleasant Mills in Mullica Township has been designated as the first river segment within the State to be included in the New Jersey Wild and Scenic River System. The Mullica River actually touches only the northern corner of Hammonton, but a number of its major tributaries originate or flow through Hammonton. Several of these have also been identified for study by the Department of Environmental Protection for inclusion within the system. These include the entire length of Nescochague Creek within Hammonton, from the boundary with Mullica Township on the east, upstream to the confluence of Albertson Brook with Great Swamp Branch. Also, proposed for wild and scenic designation is the Great Swamp Branch from its confluence with Albertson Brook, upstream to the Route 206 crossing.
The highest elevations in Hammonton occur along a prominent ridge which is the major divide between the Mullica River and the Great Egg Harbor River Watersheds. A gentle upward sloping of the land occurs as one moves northwestward across Hammonton, and the highest elevation, slightly over one hundred fifty (150) feet above mean sea level, occurs along the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Line Railroad just inside the Town boundary in the Rosedale section of Hammonton. From this upland ridge, the surrounding land area slopes off both toward the northeast and the southwest with less prominent secondary ridges occurring throughout the areas of transition to lower elevations. This system of major and secondary ridges comprises the upland areas of Hammonton. These uplands are quite distinct from the low lying, broad plain areas adjacent to the many streams which drain the region. Prominent differences in vegetation types, wildlife habitat, soil types and capabilities, and most importantly, development potential exist between the upland and low lying areas. As subsequent sections of this Inventory will describe in greater detail, upland areas are generally more suitable for development. Low lying areas are susceptible to flooding and even in marginal areas, the construction of septic systems and houses with basements may be unsuitable due to high groundwater levels and the danger of contributing to both surface and groundwater pollution. In the interest of protecting the environment, low lying areas should be avoided because they comprise the habitat for disproportionately high numbers of threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species. Many of the development standards and management programs contained within the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan reflect the sensitivity associated with wetland habitats and are designed to prohibit or severely restrict development in such areas.
The major watershed divide described above between the Mullica and Great Egg Harbor River Watersheds essentially divides the surface water drainage patterns in Hammonton into two (2) directions. To the north and east of the divide, surface waters drain northeastward through various tributaries of the Mullica River, discharging eventually into Great Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. To the south and west of the divide, surface waters drain, through tributaries of the Great Egg Harbor River, into Great Egg Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.
Major tributaries of the Mullica River within Hammonton are Sleeper Branch, also known as Mechesactauxin Creek, Nescochague Creek, Hammonton Creek, and an unnamed tributary which generally parallels the northeast Town boundary. Tributaries of the Sleeper Branch are Clark Branch and Gun Branch, both of which originate to the west of Hammonton and join with the Sleeper Branch inside municipal boundaries. Tributaries of Nescochague Creek are Albertson Brook and the Great Swamp Branch, both of which also originate west of Hammonton and join to form Nescochague Creek within the Town. The Great Swamp Branch itself has two (2) tributaries wholly within Hammonton. These originate in the higher elevations near the major watershed divide on which the developed center of Hammonton was built. Cedar Brook originates near the intersection of Third and North Streets; Drivers Branch originates near the Middle Road-Laurel Avenue intersection. Finally, Hammonton Creek originates in the Town a short distance upstream of the Hammonton Lake which was created by damming of the Creek at the White Horse Pike. Although the majority of the Hammonton Creek drainage basin is within Mullica Township, the more sensitive headwaters are within Hammonton.
Headwater areas of streams are regarded as a particularly sensitive environmental resource. During periods of low stream flow which normally recur on an annual basis during the summer months in this region, dilution rates are greatly reduced and normally safe levels of pollutants may exceed threshold concentrations for the survival of certain species in the river's ecosystem. The Town of Hammonton is in a unique position in that over fifty percent (50%) of its land area is composed of watersheds which either lie entirely within Hammonton or form the headwater areas for watersheds that drain into neighboring municipalities. Whichever the case, an awareness of the sensitivity of headwater areas is especially important when considering environmental impacts of proposed development activities.
Approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of the land area in Hammonton is located within the Great Egg Harbor River watershed. The western portion of this area is drained by the Penny Pot Stream which originates to the west of Hammonton, and several small unnamed tributaries to the Penny Pot Stream which originate within the Town in the vicinity of Second Road. The extreme southeastern portion of Hammonton is drained by another unnamed tributary of the Great Egg Harbor River which originates in the DaCosta Section of Hammonton and discharges to the river through the extensive swamp and bog wetlands in Folsom and Hamilton Township to the south.
B. PINELANDS JURISDICTION / OPEN SPACE IMPLICATIONS
The Town of Hammonton is situated completely within the designated Pinelands Area. The Pinelands Area, as designated by the New Jersey Legislature in 1978, encompasses approximately one (1) million acres in the southern part of the state. Consistent with the Federal Pinelands Protection Act, the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) for the Pinelands distinguishes between a central core, or Preservation Area, and a surrounding Protection Area. In the Preservation Area, the Plan is designed to preserve large, contiguous tracts of land in a natural state and to promote compatible agricultural, horticultural, and outdoor recreational uses. In the Protection Area, the Plan is designed to maintain the essential character of the existing Pinelands environment while providing for a certain level of needed development in an orderly way.
The Preservation Area includes that area of Hammonton within the Wharton State Forest. In the eastern portion, it includes the area to the north of Nescochague Creek downstream of the confluence of Albertson Brook and Great Swamp Branch. To the west, the Preservation Area boundary coincides with the Wharton State Forest boundary, but includes those few privately-owned parcels which are entirely within the State Forest.
The remaining area of Hammonton is situated within the Pinelands Protection Area which the Comprehensive Management Plan has categorized into seven (7) different land management districts, only three (3) of which are found within Hammonton. These include the developed Pinelands Town Management Area, incorporating the urbanized community center and surrounding infill areas, as well as the relatively undeveloped Forest and Agricultural Management Areas, as depicted on the graphic in Appendix A.
Each district within the Protection Area has its own distinct set of use intensity and development regulations to accommodate compatible land uses in a manner that is consistent with the protection of the natural resources of the Pinelands. The graphic in Appendix A shows the areas of Hammonton that are included within the Preservation and Protection Areas.
The Land Management Areas comprising Hammonton's Pinelands Protection Area have been described in the adopted CMP and Hammonton's compliant Zoning Ordinance as follows:
Forest Management Areas
Forest Areas are undisturbed, forested portions of the Protection Area which support characteristic Pinelands plant and animal species. These areas are an essential element of the Pinelands environment and are sensitive to random and uncontrolled development. Some parts of the Forest Areas are more suitable for development than others provided that such development is subject to strict environmental performance standards. Within the Town, the following uses are permitted within this Management Area, as noted in Section 175-147 of the Zoning Code:


  • By right residential uses at a density of 1 dwelling unit/34 acres;

  • Agricultural uses;

  • Agricultural employee housing;

  • Forestry;

  • Low intensity recreation uses (no more than 1 % impervious cover permitted);

  • Campgrounds (overall density of one site / acre);

  • Public service infrastructure


Agricultural Production Areas
Agricultural Production Areas are areas of active agricultural use, together with adjacent areas of prime and unique agricultural soils or soils of Statewide significance, which are suitable for expansion of agricultural operations. Within the Town the following uses are permitted within this Management Area, as noted in Section 175-148 of the Town's Zoning Code:


  • Residential uses at a density of 1 dwelling / 10 acres (must be associated with an active agricultural operation);

  • Agricultural uses;

  • Agricultural employee housing;

  • Forestry;

  • Low intensity recreational uses (no more than 1% impervious cover permitted);

  • Agricultural commercial establishments (roadside stands not exceeding 5,000 SF);

  • Agricultural products processing;

  • Public services infrastructure;

  • Airports / heliports (as accessory to active agricultural use);

  • Fish and wildlife management;

  • By right residential uses at a minimum density of 1 dwelling unit / 40 acres.


Pinelands Villages and Pinelands Towns
Pinelands Villages and Towns are existing communities in the Pinelands which are appropriate for infill residential, commercial and industrial development that is compatible with their existing character. Within Hammonton, the Pinelands Town Management Area permits a variety of uses and residential densities as components of the Pinelands Commission – Certified Zoning Ordinance. It comprises approximately 30% of the Town’s overall land area and is the focus of much of the analysis in this report given the stringent development regulations within both Forest and Agricultural Production Districts.
The geographic extent of each of these Management Areas is depicted on the graphic in Appendix A of this report.


2.0 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A summary of the plan's origin, purpose, planning processes and findings, major goals it establishes, and actions it proposes.
This current Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) supplements and expands on the initial 1998 Open Space and Recreation Plan Element compiled for the Town. It attempts to assess and depict future needs within the community for both passive open space, as well as active amenities and areas. An inventory of available municipal open space has also been included detailing the type of recreational needs currently served, as well as established State standards for different types and locations of amenity areas.
This OSRP considers current organized programs for team-oriented recreation, as well as individual and family requirements in strategizing to meet projected overall needs. The report's planning process during compilation of this report has utilized Mayor and Council, as well as appointed individuals on the community Parks and Recreation Committee, and Environmental Commissions for input and review.
As to its overall purpose, this plan seeks to inventory and describe open space and recreation facilities and opportunities for optimizing and expanding the use of such facilities, as well as the acquisition for protection and/or development of new sites for these purposes.
Founded in 1810, the Town of Hammonton is an established small town community located within the Pinelands National Preserve. Somewhat isolated from neighboring towns, farmland and forest dominate the outskirts of town while a thriving mainstreet serves as the center of town. The intersecting highways, Route 206, Route 30 and the Atlantic City Expressway, along with a passenger rail line also make Hammonton an important regional transportation hub. Beyond these highways, Hammonton is a town of agriculture, small businesses and wide residential streets lined with aged sycamores and tulip poplars.
The Town's early interest in active recreation is evidenced by the huge popularity of Hammonton Lake Park and the Little League World Series Championship in 1949. In order to provide power for the local saw mill, a dam was constructed across Fowlers Creek. The resulting lake quickly became the recreation center for the Town of Hammonton with picnicking, boating and swimming being the most popular uses. As the Town, and the recreation desires of the people evolved, land adjacent to the lake was converted to football and baseball fields. These same fields now located within Hammonton Lake Park still service the municipal football and baseball programs. The popularity of soccer prompted the construction of the first phase of the Boyer Avenue municipal fields in 1999. These fields and those located at Hammonton Lake Park comprise the majority of the Town's active recreation area and almost the entirety of the Town's team sports facilities. Additionally, the Town of Hammonton offers pocket parks within the town center and other small recreation areas. The State owned William Smith Conservation Area and Wharton State Park provide nearby opportunities for passive recreation.
A review of the Town's demographic profile displays a continuing need for active recreation facilities for youth sports programs. It also displays a significant need for attention to activities conducive to older adults and seniors geared to both couples and individuals, such as the development of the new Senior Center, Town-wide bicycle safe routes, nature trail and connecting sidewalk link, development for hiking, as well as sports such as tennis, swimming, etc. Along with these desired activities was the notion of open space preservation, specifically within the Town interior.
To help address Hammonton's recreation needs, the municipality is actively refurbishing Hammonton Lake Park, is planning to complete the construction of the Boyer Avenue fields which will provide additional team sport fields, as well as passive recreation. The Town will also continue to investigate municipal and organization use of Board of Education facilities as practice and overflow event sites. Additionally, steps are being taken to make the Town more walkable and bikeable for both recreational and environmental reasons. The Town of Hammonton is also aggressively seeking to preserve its natural lands. Acquisition of additional lands for ecological and passive recreation has been a priority focus of the Town's recent involvement with Atlantic County in the County's Open Space Partnership Program. Over the past four (4) years, the Town has filed successful acquisition applications for funding approximately one hundred three (±103) acres of lands within the Pinelands Town Area primarily for straight preservation and several with potential for low-impact uses. These parcels, noted on the Town-wide graphic in Appendix A, represent headwater protection, as well as flood hazard areas and several types of indigenous wetlands habitats. Prioritization and follow through on purchase and/or procurement of permanent conservation easements on parcels will be the next step in this process.
This Open Space and Recreation Plan provides the documents and public input necessary to craft an amendment to the Town's Master Plan centered on the future open space and recreation needs of the community. It represents a comprehensive approach in assessing the Town's projected passive and active open space and recreation facility needs. It incorporates an inventory of existing open space resources, and examines current Community demographics and recreational trends in attempting to implement a proactive program to meet Community needs.

3.0 GOALS AND POLICIES: The local government's goals and policies should be clearly stated and relate to the Applicant's philosophy of open space and recreation.
The Town of Hammonton in its initial 1998 Open Space and Recreation Plan Element stated its municipal goals related to provision of adequate open space and recreation amenities within the community, and remain reflective of this updated OSRP's general Goals and Policies. In this Plan update, discussions with local policy makers, but, primarily, outreach and input by Town residents have led to the formulation of the following Goals and Associated Policies:


  • Preserve open spaces to maintain community character, quality of life, natural and cultural resources;



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