Mount Olive Township, New Jersey
150 years proud in 2021
Business View Magazine profiles Mount Olive Township, New Jersey for our focus on Sustainability in U.S. Cities
Mount Olive Township in scenic northwest New Jersey covers a landscape of 32 square miles, enfolding the communities of Budd Lake and Flanders. It encompasses recreation and farmlands, suburban developments, apartment complexes, historic homes, a signature lake, rivers and streams, and remnants of the Old Morris Canal. Mount Olive is located right off Interstate 80 and Route 206, 40 miles west of Manhattan and 20 miles east of the Delaware Water Gap and Pennsylvania. It has excellent proximity to airports, the east coast’s largest cargo port, rail, and interstate road networks. Although located amidst great infrastructure, Mount Olive lies in pastoral green rolling hills with a quality of life that puts it a step above most corporate environments.
Mount Olive consists of two sections: Budd Lake, named for John Budd, who acquired 1,300 acres of land in 1714, and Flanders, named for a group of early settlers who vacationed in Flanders, Long Island. The Township was named after Benjamin Olive, a local land owner. Mount Olive began on March 22, 1871 through the splitting of the area known as Roxbury. In 2021, the Township will celebrate its 150th Anniversary.
Over the years, Mount Olive re-zoned certain areas of town to allow for smart growth and redevelopment areas. With the implementation of the Highlands Water Planning and Preservation Act in 2004, placing 79% of the Township within the restrictive Preservation Area, along with Mount Olive currently protecting 6,925 total acres of preserved open space, the Township took steps to identify developmental areas, while keeping its commitment to protect the natural resources, farmland, watershed land, and scenic views. This balance has allowed Mount Olive to flourish with responsible residential and commercial development.
Business View reached out to Mount Olive Business Administrator, Andrew Tatarenko, for updates on the Township’s growth and sustainability efforts. The following report highlights his insights on various aspects of importance to this exceptional community.
Technology is an essential piece in delivering municipal services and most importantly being transparent and communicating with the public. The Township website was recently updated giving residents an easier tool to navigate and we have a large social media presence. Many of our services are accessible on-line, such as requesting public records, submitting permits & licenses, paying taxes, and live streamed meetings. GPS is used to track our fleet, a work-order platform helps us prioritize our service requests, and we are investing in technology that helps us provide information across multiple departments, streamlines workflows for staff, and improves self-service access for residents.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave us an opportunity to expand our resources which made us rely more heavily on technology. Our immediate need was to allow employees to securely work remotely and deploy technology for us to hold internal and public meetings online. Mount Olive’s in-house IT Department was instrumental in the transition and employees were quickly able to work from home, maintain productivity, and deliver the essential services our residents rely on.
The current Administration and Council does a great job keeping the Township connected to the business community and creating integral partnerships. The Mount Olive Area Executive Council was created with a focus on community and business issues that face our larger employers. Quarterly meetings are held with key executives from Givaudan Fragrance, Robertet USA, Veolia NA, Siemens-Healthineers, Fratelli-Beretta USA, Holiday Inn of Budd Lake, Elogistics Service Corp , AVD US , Centenary University, County College of Morris, First Energy (JCP&L), the Morris County Economic Development Committee, Mount Olive Economic Development Committee, Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, a Council Liaison and Township Administration to share ideas and concerns. Amazon has recently opened a Distribution Center in Mount Olive, so I expect they’ll be joining us as well. The relationships we built were crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic in obtaining donations and organizing volunteer programs.
The Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest non-regional Chambers in NJ, provides our business community with opportunities including professional education, brand building, networking, and community service events each month. The Mount Olive Economic Development Committee also works on developing an economical and business-friendly environment that facilitates job creation and retention. Our proximity to New York City and its ports, airports, rail services, and trucking makes it an ideal location, as a regional center for healthcare, retail, education, and manufacturing. Home to the Foreign Trade Zone, large corporations including Givaudan, Robertet, Seiko, UPS and FedEx are among its tenants. Mount Olive is also proud to be the regional manufacturing and research center for Siemens Healthineers and Benjamin Moore Paint Products.
Sustainability & Environment
A major solar development has been recently approved for Mount Olive, called the Combe Fill North Landfill Solar Project. The site is a former landfill which comprised 65 acres of the 103-acre property. It was first operated as a municipal landfill in 1966, then by Morris County Landfill Inc. from 1969 – 1978 and sold to Combe Fill Corporation (CFC) in 1978. CFC operated the landfill until January 1981, when operation ceased and it turned into a Superfund Site being remediated by the NJDEP in 1991. The site has been monitored by the USEPA and NJDEP since being capped. A recent strategy change has allowed the property to be re-assigned to a new owner, Mt. Olive Solar Field, LLC. The Township initiated a Redevelopment Study which resulted in an overlay zone to accommodate the development of a solar field. The new owner is proposing a solar array farm with over 60,000 panels producing 28 MW of electricity. CEP Renewables will play a key role in the Combe Fill North project – the largest solar landfill project of its kind in North America.
The most recent green initiative in Mount Olive is the future installation of eight electric vehicle charging stations at Turkey Brook Park. With more residents investing in electric vehicles, this service will support the use and incentives others to make the switch.
In my view, having 35%, 6,925 acres, of the community as protected open space has a positive impact on the community. Quality of life, community wellness, and robust recreational opportunities are the hallmarks of Mount Olive and our successful open space program. In 1995, residents approved the establishment of a local Open Space Trust Fund which allows us to acquire and preserve land. One of the first acquisitions led to the creation of Turkey Brook Park, a centerpiece of the Township.
Mount Olive makes significant capital improvements on an annual basis. We’ve increased spending on our road rehabilitation program, investing over $1M in 2020, installing public sewers in our Historical District, expanding our water service area, converting our grass recreational fields into turf, renovating Historical Buildings and purchasing new vehicles and equipment to ensure our services are being delivered. In 2021 we’ll be looking at starting the Budd Lake Beach renovation, converting an old Horse Farm the Township acquired into a new recreational facility and continuing to invest in our infrastructure.
Most importantly, the Mayor has created a workforce environment which emphasizes the importance of delivering exceptional service and putting the needs of our residents first. This allows us to build trust and a good reputation within the community. And something else for residents to celebrate – in 2020, we were voted number 12th safest town in the nation by Safewise.
Looking to the future
The future looks promising and eventful. One of the last major areas of development, the ITC East project, will start to take shape, an immense solar field is being planned, and the Township auctioned off 57 acres of land for future development. My goals are to start moving forward on the Budd Lake Beach and Horse Farm redevelopment projects. Another major objective is to assist with the redevelopment of a vacant 1 million square foot, five-building facility (the former BASF Complex) into a “Live, Work, Play” community. And we’ve now secured approval for our current affordable housing plan (3rd Round). The Mayor and Council also have goals of stabilizing taxes. For eight years in a row, there has been no municipal tax increase as we continue to encourage growth while at the same time limit spending.
Mount Olive is a great place to live, work and raise a family. Our municipal services, a highly rated school system, economic and residential developments, trails and open space, historical buildings, recreational facilities, and our jewel of all jewels – Turkey Brook Park – serves as the focal point of our community. Our other amenities include the Mount Olive Public Library, Senior Center, the Budd Lake Beach and an award winning playground and splash pad. We are home to small town retail businesses, as well as larger corporations who take advantage of the Foreign Trade Zone. But the most valuable asset to our community are the industrious and civic minded residents, employees, and volunteers. Mount Olive is a community that cares for one another, is resilient to anything, and is stronger together. From recreation, to education, to business, Mount Olive has something for everyone.
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AT A GLANCE
Mount Olive Township, New Jersey
What: Scenic, forward-thinking community; population 29,253
Where: 40 miles west of Manhattan