The Somerset County Regional Center
As communities in Somerset County continue to grow, a challenge has been to maintain the convenience, affordability, and green space that for years attracted new residents and businesses. Located in a highly developed area along the I-287 and Route 202/206 corridors, Bridgewater, Raritan Borough and Somerville have come together in their shared desire to attract economic development while preserving and enhancing their historic resources and open space. Starting this summer, the collaboration will result in a more friendly environment for pedestrians and bicyclists.
In May 1996, the State Planning Commission designated Somerville, Raritan Borough and an adjacent portion of Bridgewater as New Jersey’s first Regional Center, a 14.2-square mile district serving 25,000 residents and 40,000 workers. As defined by the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, a Regional Center serves as the focal point for regional economic, social, and cultural activities, featuring a compact, mixed-use core surrounded by neighborhoods offering a wide variety of housing types. A Regional Center often includes a county seat, such as Somerville. As required by the State Planning Commission, the three municipalities created a Regional Center Partnership consisting of
public officials from each municipality and Somerset County, including the park commission, as well as members from the Somerset County Business Partnership, and the corporate and residential communities. The partnership provides the leadership, technical support, and assistance to achieve the Regional Center’s goals and objectives.
Benefits of the Regional Center
Designation as a Regional Center brings funding assistance for land use studies and planning initiatives that target development, redevelopment, and investment within in the Regional Center, while ensuring open spaces will be protected and preserved. The designation also assigns priority to businesses and governments in Bridgewater, Raritan, and Somerville in the competition for discretionary state funding for initiatives that fulfill the intent of the State Master Plan, such as:
- Cooperative planning and design that foster a sense of community
- An increased responsiveness to and respect for the natural environment
- Initiatives that facilitate pedestrian movement and community interaction
- Internal open space and natural linkage enhancements
- Land use decisions with a neighborhood focus
- Corridor planning along the Interstate highway system