The Sussex County Commissioners on May 12 approved Vernon Township’s request for $75,000 from the County Open Space Trust Fund to buy the Baldwin property at 8-20 Black Creek Drive.
The township council unanimously agreed on Feb. 22 to buy the property from Thomas and Mike Hussey for $289,000 for use as open space and to complete the trail system.
The land buy will allow Vernon to connect its municipal complex to township-owned open space to the south. The township will develop a hiking/biking trail along this route, with the goal of connecting Maple Grange Park to the north with the Mountain Creek property and township open space to the south and west.
Council President Harry Shortway said on Feb. 22 that putting the trail on the Baldwin property will give it less of an incline.
Many residents objected to the purchase, saying buying the property for open space contradicts economic development goals to lower residential property taxes by bringing in businesses.
Shortway countered that 47 out of 172 parcels located in the Town Center along Route 94 and County Highway 515 are vacant. Many are privately owned and have been vacant for more than 10 years, he said.
The opposition claims the property has sewer access, but township officials say the property is not in the Sewer Access Area.
Sean Clarkin questioned the purchase price. He said the property isn’t worth $289,000 if it’s not being used for commerce.