Helping towns reach their visions

NEWTON. Community planner Jessica Caldwell has worked on master plans and redevelopment studies for Newton and Vernon among other municipalities.

Newton /
| 30 Jun 2024 | 03:01

Jessica Caldwell, a community planner based in Newton, has worked on master plans for Vernon, Newton, Andover borough and township, Green Township and Sandyston.

She also did redevelopment studies for Newton and Vernon and has contributed to a large number of projects for private developers.

“What I love most about my job is being able to help communities reach their visions,” she said.

Her next big project is in Franklin, where she is helping redevelop the zinc mine that has been there for many years.

The difficulty that many Sussex County towns run into when planning projects is caused by restrictions on development, she said. The rural county has many environmental restraints and not a whole lot of infrastructure.

Restrictions do not mean that projects cannot be accomplished, Caldwell said. Using the redevelopment law and working with the state, projects can get off the ground.

She believes that towns should have a vision for what they want to be in the future. Officials should be looking ahead and following the master plan.

She encourages towns to stick with their long-term vision.

One of her favorite projects was for Thorlabs in 2008. It was a turning point for Sussex County because it was able to keep the high-tech company, which now is responsible for more than 1,000 local jobs.

When Caldwell is not planning projects, she is teaching classes at Rutgers University.

“I co-teach with an attorney and it is usually on a Saturday for at least six hours,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to teach board members and meet new people. I think when teaching something, you really have to learn it well.”

Caldwell has lived and worked in Sussex County for more than 20 years. She also works in Morris, Warren and Hunterdon counties.

This spring, she was named Business Person of the Year at the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Toast to the Stars” awards luncheon.

“Jessica is an individual who is recognized as having set a standard of accomplishment in both business and the community and who has made a significant impact through their work in the community,” said Tammie Horsfield, the chamber president.

“She is highly educated in her field with a professional demeanor that makes people listen.”

Caldwell represents 23 municipalities, of which 11 are in Sussex County.

Her business, J. Caldwell & Associates, is at 145 Spring St., Newton.

What I love most about my job is being able to help communities reach their visions.”
- Jessica Caldwell, community planner