Bernards Township was originally formed by Royal charter in 1760 as Bernardston Township from remaining portions of Northern precinct. It was incorporated as Bernards Township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798, as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 township. Portions of the township were taken to form Warren Township (March 5, 1806), Far Hills (April 7, 1921) and Bernardsville (March 6, 1924). Bernards Township now comprises Basking Ridge, Liberty Corner, Lyons, and West Millington and celebrated its 250th charter anniversary on May 24, 2010.
There were 9,783 households of which 40.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.7% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.5% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.27.
In the township, 28.8% of the population were under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 20.6% from 25 to 44, 32.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.1 years. For every 100 females there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $123,285 (with a margin of error of +/- $7,030) and the median family income was $153,906 (+/- $14,565). Males had a median income of $123,390 (+/- $9,621) versus $86,272 (+/- $9,195) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $67,809 (+/- $4,972). About 2.1% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.3% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.
There were 9,242 households of which 37.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.0% were married couples living together, 5.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.8% were non-families. 26.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.17.
Age distribution was 27.7% under the age of 18, 3.2% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 25.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.0 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $107,204, and the median income for a family was $135,806. Males had a median income of $95,758 versus $60,865 for females. The per capita income for the township was $56,521. About 0.6% of families and 1.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 2.9% of those age 65 or over.
Bernards Township operates under the Township form of New Jersey municipal government. The Township Committee consists of five members, elected by the public at-large in partisan elections for three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election. In the Township Committee form of government, all legislative and executive powers of the Township are the responsibility of the Township Committee, except in matters of health. The Mayor is elected by the committee from among its members at the annual Reorganization meeting held in January. In the Township Committee form of government, all members have equal power and may vote on all issues.
As of 2013[update], members of the Township Committee are Mayor Carolyn Gaziano (R, term as mayor ends December 31, 2013; term on committee ends in 2015), Deputy Mayor John Carpenter (R, term as deputy mayor ends in 2013; term on committee ends in 2014), Carol Bianchi (R, 2013), John Malay (R, 2015), and Mary Pavlini (R, 2014). Carol Bianchi was appointed in August 2013 to fill the vacant Township Committee seat expiring on December 31, 2013, following the resignation of Scott Spitzer earlier that month.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 18,377 registered voters in Bernards Township, of which 3,544 (19.3% vs. 26.0% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 7,019 (38.2% vs. 25.7%) were registered as Republicans and 7,803 (42.5% vs. 48.2%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 11 voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 69.0% (vs. 60.4% in Somerset County) were registered to vote, including 96.9% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.4% countywide).
In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 8,078 votes here (56.1% vs. 46.1% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 6,143 votes (42.6% vs. 52.1%) and other candidates with 99 votes (0.7% vs. 1.1%), among the 14,405 ballots cast by the township's 18,039 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.9% (vs. 78.7% in Somerset County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 8,364 votes here (60.6% vs. 51.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 5,317 votes (38.5% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 84 votes (0.6% vs. 0.9%), among the 13,812 ballots cast by the township's 16,534 registered voters, for a turnout of 83.5% (vs. 81.7% in the whole county).
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 6,124 votes here (59.5% vs. 55.8% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 2,639 votes (25.6% vs. 34.1%), Independent Chris Daggett with 1,427 votes (13.9% vs. 8.7%) and other candidates with 33 votes (0.3% vs. 0.7%), among the 10,293 ballots cast by the township's 18,244 registered voters, yielding a 56.4% turnout (vs. 52.5% in the county).
Partnership with Terrebonne Parish
In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which had a devastating effect on the area, locals from the Bernards Township sent truckloads of much-needed supplies to assist residents of Houma, Louisiana. In 2007, the Parish returned the favor by sending The Terrebonne High School Marching band on a 26-hour bus ride to the Bernards Township to march in their Christmas parade, and perform a Christmas concert for the public at a local church.
Ridge High School was ranked 194th, the second-highest in New Jersey, in Newsweek magazine's 2010 rankings of America's Best High Schools. The school was the 9th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide, in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2010 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", after being ranked 12th in 2010 out of 322 schools.
The township had a total of 138.86 miles (223.47 km) of roadways, of which 109.20 miles (175.74 km) are maintained by the municipality, 21.13 miles (34.01 km) by Somerset County and 8.53 miles (13.73 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
New Jersey Transit provides local bus service on the MCM8 route.
Points of interest
The Devil's Tree - A solitary oak tree in a field off Mountain Road in the southern corner of the township that has been subject of several stories in Weird NJ magazine.
The Brick Academy - A restoration of what was known as the Basking Ridge Classical School, a prep school for those hoping to attend Princeton University. The Brick Academy is the current home of the Historical Society of the Somerset Hills.
^Cheselow, Jerry. "If You're Thinking of Living In: Basking Ridge, N.J.;A Rich Hamlet That Gobbled Up a Town", The New York Times, November 19, 1995. Accessed July 4, 2012. "But over two centuries, about 95 percent of the township became known as Basking Ridge and has a Basking Ridge postal address.... The only major parts of Bernards that do not have Basking Ridge addresses are the Veterans Administration Hospital, opened in 1930, where disabled veterans and staff are housed, and Liberty Corner, a small historic district in the southern section of the township."
^Perry, W. Jacob. "Bianchi gets nod for open seat in Bernards Township", The Bernardsville News, September 6, 2013. Accessed September 10, 2013. "Republican Township Committee candidate Carol Bianchi, who had hoped to join the governing body next January, became an incumbent on Tuesday, Aug. 27, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy. Bianchi filled an opening left by the Aug. 9 resignation of fellow Republican Scott Spitzer, with the committee voting 4-0 to select her from a list of three candidates submitted by the Republican Municipal Committee (RMC)."
^via Associated Press. "Booker is officially a U.S. senator after being sworn in", NJ.com, October 31, 2013. Accessed October 31, 2013. "Former Newark Mayor Cory Booker was sworn in as a Democratic senator from New Jersey today, taking the oath of office, exchanging hugs with Vice President Joe Biden and acknowledging the applause of friends and family members seated in the visitor's gallery that rings the chamber.... Booker, 44, was elected to fill out the term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this year."
^Pleasant, Matthew. "Terrebonne band returns from long-awaited field trip", Houma Today, December 29, 2007. Accessed August 26, 2013. "Driving into the frigid temperatures of New England a week before Christmas, more than a hundred students, parents and teachers from Terrebonne High School traveled to Bernards Township, N.J., to perform in the town’s holiday parade. The journey was their way of showing thanks to Bernards Township for the support the town showed during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, when their community and chamber of commerce trucked loads of supplies to Houma."
^Frequently Asked Questions, Bernards Township School District. Accessed August 26, 2013. "The PALS program is currently housed at Cedar Hill School Elementary School. Full Day PALS Class- The full day PALS class is primarily designed for children with a medical diagnosis of autism. It is based upon the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)."
^Renee, Robin. "Central Jersey", Courier News, October 31, 2004. Accessed July 4, 2012. "There are many tales of death around The Devil's Tree. Some say it is a portal to hell and a sentinel guards it. He will appear driving an old black pickup truck."
^Nutt, Amy Ellis. "Chris Daggett, ever the policy wonk, concentrates on the details", The Star-Ledger, October 11, 2009. Accessed November 13, 2013. "As an independent, Daggett straddles more than just political parties. He’s a child of the free-thinking, authority-mocking 1960s — and a buttoned-down, plow-ahead grinder. The life-long Basking Ridge resident graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he says his college thesis was 'something out of the ’60s, like the study of personhood.'"
^Horner, Shirley. "ABOUT BOOKS", The New York Times, October 3, 1993. Accessed July 4, 2012. "The other inductees are Patricia Lee Gauch of Basking Ridge, who has written more than 30 children's books"
^Makin, Robert. "Music", Courier-News, December 6, 2002. Accessed November 13, 2013. "Phish, whose guitarist, Trey Anastasio, was raised in Princeton, and whose keyboardist, Page McConnell, was raised in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards, took a two-year hiatus to pursue solo projects and downtime."
^Caldwell, Dave. "IN PERSON; Renaissance Man", The New York Times, December 4, 2005. Accessed January 24, 2008. "The taciturn Mulcahy, who graduated from Millburn High School and lives in Basking Ridge, did much of the groundwork that let Schiano, after a few tough seasons, become a success in his home state -- their home state."