The Township of Montville is a municipal corporation which was established by special charter of the NJ State Legislature in 1867. The Township is a suburban community located in the County of Morris in the northwest portion of New Jersey. Montville Township is 20 square miles and comprised of 3 sections: Towaco, Pine Brook and Montville. There are approximately 20,000 residents. Montville is an active, vibrant community providing services, activities and volunteer opportunities in everything from sports and 4th of July celebrations to youth and senior groups.
The Township of Montville is headed by 5 elected officials who constitute the Township Committee (also referred to as the "governing body") which establishes laws and policies for the Township. The Mayor is a member of the Township Committee and is elected annually by the Committee.
The Township Administrator serves as the chief administrative and executive officer for the organization and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of all municipal departments. There are approximately 100 permanent full-time employees. Additionally, there are dozens of volunteers who serve on various boards, committees and commissions.
Separate and autonomous public entities, which serve township residents and businesses, include the Montville Board of Education (Montville Public Schools) and the Montville Free Public Library. The Township is also fortunate to be served by the Montville Township First Aid Squad and the Montville, Pine Brook and Towaco Fire Departments. All of these emergency response organizations are manned entirely by volunteers.
History of Montville Township
The area now known as Montville Township was first settled by Dutch farmers from New Amsterdam (now New York City) in the very early 18th century. Part of New Netherland, the town was originally called "Uyle-Kill" (the Dutch pronunciation of "Owl-Kill"), a name given to the creek and valley, which ran through the area. By the 1740s, the settlement had grown in size and construction of the first road was begun. The early road, now know as Route 202, connected various farms with Montville’s first gristmill, sawmill and tanneries.
During the Revolutionary War, Montville Township was on a major military route from Morristown to the Hudson River. General George Washington’s troops often took this route and Washington stayed in Montville Township (Towaco section) in June 1780. The French troops under the leadership of General Rochambeau also passed through Montville Township on their way to the War’s final victory at Yorktown, Virginia. It took them four days as they encompassed 5,000 soldiers, 2,000 horses, 500 oxen, possibly 900 cattle, artillery, boats, followers, etc.
Montville was officially named with specific boundaries April 1800. The name came from the Mandeville Inn, which was pronounced Mondeveil by the Dutch. That name was corrupted to Montville. The Montville Inn is located at the site of the pre-Revolutionary War Mandeville Inn.
The construction of the Morris Canal in this area was completed in 1828, bringing commercial navigation to the Montville/Towaco area. The mid-19th century saw the development of two smaller village centers set apart from Montville: Pine Brook, a fertile agricultural area in the Township’s southern end, and Towaco, situated on the Morris Canal. In 1867, the Township of Montville was formally chartered from 19 square miles of territory set off from what was part of Pequannock Township.
Growth and Development in Montville Township
In 1962 the Township Committee proudly dedicated the “new” Montville Municipal Building on River Road which housed all municipal operations within the 10,000 square-foot-facility. At this time, the Township was a rural-suburban community of approximately 7,000 residents, with 1,957 homes and 79 farms scattered throughout 19 square miles.
Over the past few decades, Montville was discovered by residential and commercial property developers. Montville’s central location in northern New Jersey with ready access to major transportation routes made the Township a popular location. During the '70s and '80s, Montville experienced its greatest growth boom when the population increased by almost 30 percent. The completion of I-287 made Montville an even more attractive location for residential and commercial development. However, Montville still enjoys a significantly lower population density than Morris County and the State.
Accompanying this population growth was an expansion of the utilities network in the area. The Montville Municipal Utilities Authority has conducted an aggressive expansion campaign of its water and sanitary sewer systems during the past 10 years, and now services approximately 70 percent of the residential and commercial properties within the Township.
During the Township’s rapid growth period, the municipal government has also grown to meet the needs and demands of old and new residents. Services have been expanded and facilities have been upgraded and improved.
Symbolic of the transformation of the community, the municipal offices were relocated to the new Municipal Building on Changebridge Road in 1994. This 20,000 square-foot-facility houses most municipal operations.
The Township’s continuing growth, including residential developments and increased school enrollments, resulted in a need for a new public library facility. A portion of the Montville High School property was donated by the Board of Education for the new facility. In 1995, the Library moved from the old facility of 3,500 square feet with 57,000 volumes to a magnificent new facility of 18,000 square feet capable of holding 150,000 volumes. The meeting rooms in the new Library are in heavy demand for civic association meetings and cultural events sponsored by the Library.
The demand for parks and open space also increased as Montville’s population increased. To meet the expanding needs of the community, Montville utilized the 84-acre Community Center tract to construct four competition-grade, lighted athletic fields and basketball courts, upgrade the community gardens available as gardening/farming space for residents, install an amphitheater for outdoor concerts and performances and construct a full time Youth Center that opened to the public in 2003.
In 1989, Montville residents voted overwhelmingly for a dedicated open space tax. The tax has been increased twice since and is now one of the highest open space taxes in New Jersey. The strong public support for municipal acquisition of open spaces reflects the public’s recognition that there are intense development pressures on the 2,000 remaining acres of vacant land in the Township and that open spaces must be acquired now or forever be lost to development.
The Township has utilized Open Space Trust funds to purchase over 1033 acres of open space. Morris County has acquired an additional 535 acres within the Montville borders. These areas include miles of walking/hiking trails, waterfalls and mountaintop views of Montville and the New York City skyline.
Today, Montville is a suburban community within the New York metropolitan area with a full range of municipal services, an excellent public school system and a model public library. Montville’s housing stock currently consists of 764 multi-family rental units, 1,703 condominiums and townhouses, 4,932 single-family homes, 59 two-family homes and 18 farmhouses.
While able to meet the expanding needs of residents, the Township has also followed a prudent financial plan, which has resulted in a constant level of debt. In 1998, the entire Township was revalued to more equitably distribute the tax burden between old and new homes and commercial, residential and vacant properties.
As Montville Township’s population has increased, the demands for services, facilities and infrastructure improvements have also increased. In keeping with these demands, the Township has undertaken many new projects and continues to respond to the public demand for additional facilities.
The Senior House, located on Route 202, was renovated and expanded in 2002. Programs and services were significantly expanded under the direction of a full-time Social Services Director. The Morris County Nutrition Program operates out of the Montville Senior House twice weekly, serving an average of 133 meals on site and delivering, on average, 55 Meals on Wheels out of the Senior House kitchen. The Senior House is open almost every weekday. Activities include exercise programs, dance instruction, arts & crafts, special lectures particularly regarding health, safety and medical care, gaming (bingo, poker, mah-jongg, etc.), birthday breakfasts, special celebrations of New Year's, Chinese New Year's, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, etc.
The new Public Safety Building, located on Route 202, was opened in 2003. It houses the 24-7 Police Department and the Municipal Court in a state-of-the-art facility. Also in 2003, the Township dedicated the new Youth Center, located in Community Park on Changebridge Road. The Youth Center includes comfortable seating areas, a ping-pong table, billiards table, computers and TV. This new facility provides unstructured drop-in sessions and special events.
As part of its Mid-Town Direct expansion program, New Jersey Transit, with supplemental funding from the Township of Montville, renovated the Towaco Train Station using a unique design hearkening back to the early 1900s. This renovation has spurred additional improvements in Towaco and serves as a guide to redevelopment of the Towaco business district. Commuters may now go from Towaco to mid-town Manhattan via a transfer in Montclair rather than transferring to the PATH in Newark.