Is Bridgewater's Vacant Ethicon Site In Need Of Redevelopment?
Is Bridgewater's Vacant Ethicon Site In Need Of Redevelopment?

Is Bridgewater's Vacant Ethicon Site In Need Of Redevelopment?

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — For the past four years, the former Ethicon site encompassing almost 82-acres off Route 22 has remained vacant. Now Bridgewater Township is investigating to see if the property is in need of redevelopment.

The Township Council unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday night requesting that the Planning Board review and investigate if the former Ethicon Site at 555 Route 22 meets the statutory criteria to be designated as an “Area in Need of Redevelopment.”

The Ethicon site, off Route 22 and Country Club Road, formerly served as a hub of the pharmaceutical industry. It suspended its operations in 2020, and has since lay dormant and underutilized.

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Township Administrator Michael Pappas said the “facility lacks the current standards for the pharmaceutical industry as it once had.”

As a result, Pappas noted multiple inquiries were made on the property.

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“It’s a large parcel of land in a very strategic location. I will tell you that over the last several years… since Ethicon ceased operation, we received numerous contacts from real estate professionals, and developers with an interest in this property,” said Township Administrator Michael Pappas. “Every instance was for high-density residential development or ‘Mega’ warehouses.”

Neither of these uses aligns with the vision of the Township, so officials brought forth the resolution to launch the investigation.

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Municipalities can designate sites as Areas in Need of Redevelopment so long as the investigation determines that the Site meets with the statutory requirements set out by the State of New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law. Such a designation would give the Township of Bridgewater maximum control and flexibility over the future of the site, including any attempt to redevelop the site, according to a statement from Mayor Matthew Moench and the Council.

“When you look at the property it’s not going to sit as a vacant, dormant piece of property. Someone wants to do something with that property,” said Council President Timothy Ring. “We can allow them to go through the land use board and seek stuff or through an ‘Area in Need of Redevelopment’. It gives us more leverage to negotiate with and put certain controls in place in exchange.”

“This is a very important tool in our tool box to be able to have maximum control, maximum input on what happens there,” said Councilman Michael Kirsh. “An understanding on what may go there, what is appropriate, and having a true say in that. By going down this pathway we hold a much greater control than we would simply to allow development to occur following our master plan.”

Township control includes detailed site plan authority, open space or recreation requirements and the statutory requirement to consent or approve any future sale of the property.

“As the economic landscape changes around us, the Area in Need of Redevelopment process will likely be increasingly employed to ensure that the whims of developers do not determine the image of Bridgewater and negatively impact the quality of life for our residents,” according to the township statement.

The passage of the resolution is “the first step in a very detailed process,” said Pappas.

The next step in the process is the Planning Board will conduct their investigation which will include a public hearing and then adopt a resolution recommending or not recommending the redevelopment area.

That resolution would then come back before the Township Council. The final step in the process would require a public hearing and adoption of an ordinance.

“There are multiple public hearings, multiple meetings for public input. This will not be something that we resolve at our next Council meeting,” said Ring.

Kirsh, who is the Council-appointed liaison for the Planning Board, said he would also be willing to serve as a Community Liasion.

“I maintain my willingness to speak with any member of the public,” said Kirsh who shared his email at

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