Town Plan and Open Space Design Standards
Location: Washington Township, New Jersey, United States. New Town
The Town Plan and Open Space Design Standards for Washington Township, New Jersey, defines the urban form for a new town currently under construction in suburban New Jersey. The plan guides the creation of a graceful and generous civic realm, while providing each resident with access to both a regional greenbelt and neighborhood parks.
“This project represents a remarkable public initiative,” says Juror Jonathan Barnett. “It structures the private sector build-out of a new town center for a suburban area. This is a model for infilling suburban areas in a way that addresses and compensates for the shortcomings of its surroundings.”
The plan and design standards set the design, implementation, and long-term maintenance of all public open space and streets in a 400-acre development. All homes will be within walking distance of the 300,000-square foot mixed-use commercial main street. The town will have a series of districts, each with individual street detailing, architecture, and density. The plans integrate the town with its 450-acre greenbelt edge and the surrounding agrarian environment..
The plan calls for a mimimum of 1,000 housing units, though more could be built through the transfer of development rights from nearby rural areas. The town will have a broad range of house types, including apartments, townhouses, duplexes, and single-family detached homes, with a variety of sizes within each type. Both the Town Plan and the Open Space Design Standards provide graphic urban design codes, controlling the public architecture of the built environment.
An existing state highway will become the town’s Main Street. The road, with its existing bus routes, is currently a high-speed regional highway. As the plan is implemented, it will become a two-lane street with on-street parking, 16-foot-wide sidewalks, and commercial facades flush with the sidewalks. The town’s residential and commercial densities, combined with the use of a state highway as the main street, ensure that public transit will be viable. The center will also be integrated into the region through a series of interconnected pedestrian paths, greenbelts, and pedestrian- and bicycle-compatible roadways.
The town will have a network of connected streets within 1,500 feet of the commercial core. Midblock garden paths aim to increase the town’s pedestrian connectivity. All streets provide on-street parking, are relatively narrow, and are bicycle-compatible. The open space plan controls the quality of the street environment by prescribing tree species and sidewalk materials, block-by-block. Multiple roadways aim to reduce congestion without arterials. Narrow streets create pedestrian-friendly intersections.
The Open Space Design Standards provide specific designs for formal parks, informal parks, parking lots, recreational spaces, a boulevard, avenues, paths, trails, tot lots, performance spaces, natural areas, and a community garden. Every housing unit will be close to the open space system, which includes a series of paths into the greenbelt, along waterways, and on an inactive rail line.
Civic, institutional and commercial activity will be embedded in neighborhoods and districts. Existing institutions within the 400-acre new center include the municipal building, police station, courts, public library, a senior citizen center, and two churches. The plan has two locations reserved for future civic buildings. An existing middle school is within the proposed 450-acre greenbelt, and is designed to be accessible through the bicycle path system.
The plans and standards will create a town, not a single-use subdivision. They provide a record of the town’s underlying design concepts, and will guide future Township decisions on budgets and resource allocation as the public spaces evolve and mature.
Transect Zone(s): T3 sub-urban, T4 general.
Project or Plan's Scale: Town
Land area (in acres): 400
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Project team designers: Brown & Keener Urban Design, Washington Township Planning Board
Project team developers: Sharbell Newtown Inc.
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Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -