Chesterfield Township
Burlington County, New Jersey




Old York Village
Implementing Smart Growth


Chesterfield Township, a sparsely developed rural community in northern Burlington County, NJ has enacted an innovative Master Plan and Land Development Ordinance which will channel future growth into a new village designed according to neo-traditional planning principles.


Agriculture and horse farming are the predominant land uses in Chesterfield.  The preservation of this agricultural heritage is one of the fundamental tenets of the Township Master Plan.  Nearly one-third of the Township's land area has been permanently deed restricted for agricultural use.  Chesterfield Township ranks second among New Jersey's 566 municipalities in farmland preservation with 4,575 acres preserved to date through a variety of local, county and state programs.




Chesterfield is sparsely settled, with only 924 dwelling units among its 21 square miles.  The township's traditional development pattern consists of farms surrounding the historic village of Crosswicks and hamlets of Chesterfield and Sykesville.


Fortunately, the pace of new housing construction has been slow - averaging 13 units per year since 1990.  However, a number of conventional subdivisions have been developed in recent years which interrupt the continuity of agricultural uses.  Moreover, residential market pressure is mounting in response to continuing commercial growth within Central New Jersey.


In 1997, after devoting years to evaluation and consensus-building, the Chesterfield Township Planning Board adopted a master plan which sets forth a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) strategy for future land use in the township.  Through zoning changes adopted by the Township Committee in 1998 the development capacity of all of the vacant, residentially-zoned land in the rural environs (the "sending area") is to be transferred into a 560 acre "receiving area" in a new settlement known as Old York Village.  Chesterfield is one of two municipalities in New Jersey to have implemented a comprehensive TDR zone plan.


Chesterfield has master-planned development within the receiving area according to traditional neighborhood design (TND) concepts - the planning principles by which historic American settlements such as Crosswicks Village evolved.  Consequently, although the receiving area will be developed by different homebuilders, the plans for each tract must conform to the Township's concept plan in certain key respects, including the design of collector roads, recreation facilities, the open space network and stormwater management.


The Old York Village Plan provides for over 1,200 housing units in a variety of attached and detached single family housing types, a new elementary school adjacent to centralized active recreation facilities, a network of neighborhood parks, a mixed-use village center with retail, office and convenience uses to serve local market needs and preserved stream corridors with walking paths which will connect the respective neighborhoods and extend north to Crosswicks Village.


Development within the planned village will be guided by site planning and architectural design standards which have been incorporated within the Township's zoning ordinance.  The site planning standards address the spatial relationships between buildings and the roadways, streetscape elements and open spaces which form their context.  The architectural design standards will ensure that the residential and commercial buildings echo the architectural styles and details, building materials and colors that are characteristic of buildings within Chesterfield's historic villages.


Chesterfield Township's TDR program and village plan are consistent with New Jersey's State Plan and "Smart Growth" policies.  The State Plan calls for growth within "rural planning areas" to be channeled into "centers" while leaving the surrounding environs available for agriculture and natural open space.  In 2000 the NJ State Planning Commission officially granted Chesterfield's receiving area "center designation" and awarded the township a Smart Growth grant to advance the planning of Old York Village.  Chesterfield Township's master plan integrates two of the state's principal land use policies:  preservation of agricultural land through TDR and provision of the Township's fair share of housing affordable to low and moderate income households.



Old York Village is not just a plan on paper.  Nearly 90% of the land in the receiving area is under contract to or owned by residential developers.  Sewer and water utilities have been brought to the receiving area.  Applications for subdivision approval for the majority of the land in the planned village are being processed by the Planning Board.  Most importantly, construction has commenced on the first residential subdivision.


In Chesterfield Township the interests of the landowners, farmers, homebuilders and open space preservationists share common ground.  Every house which is constructed in Old York Village represents the retirement of a development credit and the preservation of land in the balance of the Township.  When the village is fully developed, the preservation of the environs around it will also be complete.  Much like the historic settlements of Crosswicks, Chesterfield and Sykesville, the planned village will be surrounded by agricultural lands and open space.

A new village designed according to traditional planning and design principles which preserves Chesterfield Township's rural heritage.  Smart Growth.


Chesterfield Township's Transfer of Development Rights program and the neo-traditional plan for Old York Village have been recognized with the following awards:

American Planning Association, NJ Chapter 2002 Outstanding Planning Implementation Award.

American Society of Landscape Architects, NJ Chapter 2003 Landscaping Planning and Analysis Award.

New Jersey Future, 2003 Swart Growth Award.
See Award photo here.

Environmental Excellence Award for Open Space Protection and Preservation for 2003. 

2004 Outstanding Planning Award for a Project for our TDR Program and Village Plan.  (Chesterfield Township was selected for this award out of over 190 entries by the National Planning Award Jury.)  This award was presented at the American Planning Association's Conference in Washington DC on April 27, 2004)