One of New Jersey’s wealthiest families was granted permission a few years ago to land helicopters on their property in Hunterdon County during the day. Now, an LLC affiliated with the family is looking to allow helicopters to land on the premises at night as well.
The plans for a heliport on the Cedar Lane Farm in the Oldwick section of rural Tewksbury Township date back nearly a decade. Back in 2009, James L. Johnson, one of the heirs to the fortune of Johnson & Johnson, the New Brunswick-based pharmaceutical giant that bears his family’s name, first applied for approvals in order to construct the facility. At the time, the New York Post reported that Johnson sought to use the heliport “so they can bring potential cattle buyers” to the farm, but added that there was plenty of opposition to the proposal by some neighbors. Less than two years later, the plan was expected to go before township officials, according to the Hunterdon County Democrat, which reported that “it is expected that no more than one round trip per day would be made.”
Eventually, despite a denial by the Tewksbury Township Land Use Board, Johnson applied for a restricted-use helistop license from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). The NJDOT allowed construction on the helistop to begin in 2013, The Express-Times wrote, leading to appeals by a local group called the Friends of the Cold Brook Historic District along with the Tewksbury Township Committee. However, there were restrictions that the Johnson family was required to follow, including a ban on night flights and a limit on the number of flights during the day. Since it has been completed, in addition to private use, the facility has also reportedly been used by medical helicopters.
However, it appears that the Johnsons are still not satisfied with the restrictions that were originally placed on their helistop by the NJDOT. A public notice that was released near the end of February of this year shows that an Oldwick-based firm calling itself JLJ/GWJ, LLC recently filed a request with the NJDOT’s Bureau of Aeronautics in order to lift multiple restrictions. The notice states that two of the restrictions the firm wants to be lifted are the limit to the number of permitted flights and the ban on night operations.
Feedback regarding the proposal was due to the NJDOT toward the end of March.
The Johnson family has a long history in Tewksbury Township, with Cedar Lane Farm being in the family’s hands since 1938, according to the Hunterdon County Democrat. The property is located at 54 Vliettown Road, just east of Oldwick’s small town center, but NJ Parcels records show that the Johnsons and LLCs associated with them own several other massive tracts surrounding the site.