WARREN COUNTY, NJ – Freeholder James R. Kern III was awarded the Vision & Leadership Award at the 2020 Annual Meeting for the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, held via Zoom Wednesday, in recognition of his efforts “promoting regional planning as an effective strategy in confronting the major threats to Warren County’s treasured agricultural heritage, historical character and economic stability and for his open minded recognition of the Highlands Regional Master Plan as a potential part of that strategy.”
Julia Somers, the coalition’s executive director, pointed to Warren County’s long-time past opposition to the Highlands Act but said Kern approached the state’s Highlands Council to fund a study that examined the impact on the largely rural area and its roads if there were a full build-out of large-scale warehouses permitted under existing zoning.
“The impact would be massive, vastly expensive, and unsustainable,” Somers said, adding the report is available to the public on Warren County’s official website. “But without Jim’s leadership and his persuading… this knowledge would not have been available to help the county and its communities plan.”
“We believe at the Coalition that Jim roundly deserves this award for looking past old shibboleths, opinions, and dangerously outmoded positions, agreeing to be a spearhead and leading the way forward for his colleagues,” Somers said. “We salute Jim Kern with our 2020 Vision and Leadership Award. It’s well-deserved.”
Thanking the coalition and its staff, Kern noted this has been “an incredibly difficult year” with the pandemic and political divisions facing the nation, “but we all come together when it comes to our quality of life. We joke we’ve been socially distancing since 1824,” he said, referring to Warren County’s founding nearly 200 years ago and the way residents like the rural nature of the area. “We want to preserve that way of life.”
Kern will be a speaker at the Highlands Coalition’s 2nd Annual Northwest New Jersey Rivers Conference on Nov. 12, which this year is being held as a two-day virtual event. More Information is available at northwestnewjerseyrivers.org.