Study finds transit village brings far fewer children

May 17, 2006

DARRYL R. ISHERWOOD
STAFF WRITER

A study conducted by Rutgers University may answer the question of whether residential developments planned near train stations in several townships in the state, including Hamilton, will attract families with large numbers of children who end up overburdening local schools.

The study, completed by researchers at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy shows what supporters of the so-called "transit village" concept have long preached: the villages produce far fewer children -- an average of two per 100 homes -- than similar-sized housing farther from a transit hub.

Though the report has not been officially released, a copy of the draft was obtained by The Times.

"While this analysis is preliminary and one should continue to monitor the demographics of (Transit-Oriented Developments -- TODs) over time, the above-cited evidence suggests that TODs generate relatively few public school children," the report says.

The study, which, according to a summary in the report, was paid for by the state Office of Smart Growth, looked at developments surrounding several existing transit hubs throughout the state, including projects in South Orange, New Brunswick, Morristown, Metuchen and West New York.

To determine the actual number of children who live in each development, researchers contacted the school boards in those municipalities to find out the number of children enrolled in public schools.

The number of students in the developments ranged from 0 to 45 per 100 homes, with an average among the 10 developments of two children per 100 homes.

Contacted yesterday, a spokesman for the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) said the Office of Smart Growth was one of several agencies that funded the study, including the Urban Land Institute and the New Jersey Redevelopment Association.

Spokesman Sean Darcy said the agency could not comment on the report because it is still a draft and has not officially been made public.

The data is in line with an earlier study of transit-oriented developments throughout the state that put the average at about 1.7 children per 100 homes with a range of 0 to 10 per 100 homes.

Garden Commercial has set up a Web site www.ourtowncenter.info with information on the property.