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  • Kate Munning

Hanover Turns Planned Highway Into Nature Trail

Fifty years ago, the New Jersey Department of Transportation made plans to install a Route 24 access ramp through Hanover Township into Morris Plains. Due to pushback from residents, the project was never completed. When the expansion was eventually abandoned, The Land Conservancy recommended that Hanover acquire this property for a hiking and biking path. Together, we persuaded legislators to have the Department of Transportation declare the property surplus, and in 2014 Governor Christie de-legislated the land. Seven years later, the land has finally been acquired.

At 75 acres, this property is the single largest undeveloped parcel remaining in Hanover. Preserving it provides a critical buffer between neighborhoods and the growing shopping district along Hanover Avenue and Horsehill Road. While houses are just yards away, this wooded land remains largely wild and undisturbed—and will now remain that way forever.

The Land Conservancy was involved every step along the way, helping the township set up meetings with legislators, raise funds for the acquisition, and overseeing all of the due diligence work, from completing surveys and environmental assessments to removing encroachments to handling the real estate closing. Now that’s been taken care of, Hanover will design a nature trail with the Morris County Park Commission. The objective is to extend the County’s Pigeon Hill Trail—which is part of Patriots’ Path—through Hanover into Morris Plains. In a densely populated suburb like Hanover, this new green space will be a great benefit to the community.

Our own Barbara Heskins Davis is grateful to all of the individuals and entities that worked together to accomplish this. “This property would not have been protected without the

dedication and commitment of the mayor, governing body, Business Administrator Joe Giorgio, and Township Engineer Gerry Maceira. It was an innovative project that required the partnership of the town, two state agencies [NJDOT and NJDEP], state legislators, and the governor. The Land Conservancy is proud and excited to have been a part of this endeavor and congratulates Hanover on preserving such an exceptional open space property.”

We can’t wait until the new trail is finished so we can hike it!

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