According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 45.546 square miles (117.961 km2), including 41.403 square miles (107.232 km2) of land and 4.143 square miles (10.729 km2) of water (9.10%).
Rockaway Township and its sister community, Rockaway Borough, and the area around the two municipalities are home to some scenic areas. These areas include lakes, rivers, and expansive ranges of mountains, covered with trees and wildlife and hiking trails, including Farny State Park, Wildcat Ridge WMA, Mount Hope Historical Park and Splitrock Reservoir.
Portions of the township are owned by the City of Newark, Essex County, for their Pequannock River Watershed, which provides water to the city from an area of 35,000 acres (14,000 ha) that also includes portions of Hardyston Township, Jefferson Township, Kinnelon, Vernon Township and West Milford. Newark's Pequannock Watershed is administered by the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation. The river keeper for the Pequannock River is the Pequannock River Coalition.
In addition, two sites on the National Register of Historic Places can be found in Rockaway Township. Split Rock Furnace is a Civil War era iron ore furnace which is still intact. The Ford-Faesch Manor House, is a 1768 stone mansion that figured prominently during the Revolutionary War and in the 250-year history of Morris County iron industry.
Lake Telemark (with a 2010 Census population of 1,255) and White Meadow Lake (with 8,836 as of 2010 ) are unincorporated communities and census-designated places (CDPs) located within Rockaway Township.
Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Beach Glen, Deer Pond, Denmark, Dowlbyville, Durham Pond, Foxs Pond, Green Pond (a lake and an accompanying residential community), Hibernia (site of the Hibernia mines), Hickory Hill, Hilltown, Lyonsville, Marcella, Meriden, Middle Forge, Middletown, Mount Hope, Picatinny, Spicertown and Split Rock.
Splitrock Reservoir is 625 acres (2.53 km2) of wilderness in Rockaway Township that straddles the township's border with Kinnelon. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spent $3 million in 2015 to acquire a 1,500-acre (610 ha) buffer area around the reservoir, as part of an agreement under which Jersey City retains rights to use water from the reservoir and is responsible for maintenance of the dam at the site.
The 2010 United States Census counted 24,156 people, 8,983 households, and 6,701 families residing in the township. The population density was 583.4 per square mile (225.3/km2). The township contained 9,587 housing units at an average density of 231.6 per square mile (89.4/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 86.43% (20,878) White, 2.55% (616) Black or African American, 0.12% (28) Native American, 6.67% (1,611) Asian, 0.02% (4) Pacific Islander, 2.24% (541) from other races, and 1.98% (478) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 11.20% (2,705) of the population.
Out of a total of 8,983 households, 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.9% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.4% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the township, 23.8% of the population were under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 30.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.1 years. For every 100 females the census counted 95.2 males, but for 100 females at least 18 years old, it was 91.5 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $95,530 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,122) and the median family income was $111,053 (+/- $5,557). Males had a median income of $75,475 (+/- $5,327) versus $52,586 (+/- $4,837) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $41,757 (+/- $1,898). About 0.8% of families and 1.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.1% of those under age 18 and 2.0% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 22,930 people, 8,108 households, and 6,380 families residing in the township. The population density was 535.5 people per square mile (206.8/km²). There were 8,506 housing units at an average density of 198.7 per square mile (76.7/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 88.86% White, 2.46% African American, 0.10% Native American, 5.65% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.60% from other races, and 1.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.28% of the population.
There were 8,108 households out of which 40.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.5% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.3% were non-families. 17.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the township the population was spread out with 27.1% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.5 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $80,939, and the median income for a family was $89,281. Males had a median income of $58,027 versus $40,038 for females. The per capita income for the township was $33,184. About 1.4% of families and 2.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.6% of those under age 18 and 3.6% of those age 65 or over.
Rockaway Townsquare Mall ia a super-regional high-end mall anchored by J. C. Penney, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, & Sears with a gross leasable area of 1,248,000 square feet (115,900 m2), placing it in the top ten among the largest shopping malls in New Jersey.
Picatinny Arsenal, a military research and manufacturing facility, dates back to 1880 when it was established as the Dover Powder Depot, before being renamed just days later as the Picatinny Powder Depot. With 5,000 employees and covering 6,500 acres (2,600 ha), Picatinny Arsenal is the Joint Center of Excellence for Armaments and Munitions for the United States Armed Forces.
Rockaway Township is governed within the Faulkner Act (formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law) under the Mayor-Council system of municipal government (Plan F), implemented based on the recommendations of a Charter Study Commission as of January 1, 1968. The government consists of a mayor and a nine-member council consisting of one Council member elected from each of six wards and three elected on an at-large basis. The members of the governing body are elected to four-year terms of office on a staggered basis every other year as part of the November general election, with the six ward seats up for vote and then the three at-large and the mayoral seat up two years later.
As of 2016, the Mayor of Rockaway Township is Republican Michael Dachisen, whose term of office ends December 31, 2019. Members of the Township Council are Council President Stephen J. Antonelli (R, 2017; Ward 6), Council Vice President Alexander Charles Gellman (R, 2017; Ward 4), Patricia Abrahamsen (R, 2019; At-Large), Daniel Anello (R, 2017; Ward 5), Frank Berman (R, 2017; Ward 3), Jeremy Jedynak (R, 2019; At-large), Michael Puzio (R, 2019; At-large), John J. Quinn (R, 2017; Ward 2) and Donald Reddin (R, 2017; Ward 1).
Michael Dachisen was selected to serve as mayor in June 2012 after Louis S. Sceusi stepped down to take a position as judge in New Jersey Superior Court, and was sworn in as mayor in July 2012. In November 2012, Dachisen won a special election to serve the balance of Sceusi's term through 2015. Jeremy Jedynak took office in June 2013, filling the at-large seat held by John DiMaria, who left office to relocate outside of the state. The term expires in 2015 and the remaining two years of the seat were up for vote in the November 2013 general election.
Rockaway Township is located in the 11th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 26th state legislative district. Prior to the 2011 reapportionment following the 2010 Census, Rockaway Township had been in the 25th state legislative district.
New Jersey's Eleventh Congressional District is represented by Rodney Frelinghuysen (R, Harding Township). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (D, Paramus, 2019).
For the 2016–2017 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 26th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Joseph Pennacchio (R, Montville) and in the General Assembly by BettyLou DeCroce (R, Parsippany-Troy Hills) and Jay Webber (R, Morris Plains). The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).
Morris County is governed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, who are elected at-large to three-year terms on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats up for election each year as part of the November general election. The Freeholder Board sets policies for the operation of six super-departments, more than 30 divisions plus authorities, commissions, boards and study committees. Actual day-to-day operation of departments is supervised by County Administrator, John Bonanni. As of 2016, Morris County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Kathryn A. DeFillippo (Roxbury Township, term ends December 31, 2016), Deputy Freeholder William "Hank" Lyon (Montville, 2017), Douglas Cabana (Boonton Township, 2016), John Cesaro (Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, 2018), Thomas J. Mastrangelo (Montville, 2016) Christine Myers (Mendham Township, 2018), and Deborah Smith (Denville, 2018). Constitutional officers are County Clerk Ann F. Grossi (Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, 2018), Sheriff Edward V. Rochford (Morris Plains, 2016) and Surrogate John Pecoraro (Mendham Borough, 2019).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 16,022 registered voters in Rockaway Township, of which 3,861 (24.1%) were registered as Democrats, 5,481 (34.2%) were registered as Republicans and 6,668 (41.6%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 12 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 52.9% of the vote (6,410 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 45.9% (5,562 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (153 votes), among the 12,198 ballots cast by the township's 16,865 registered voters (73 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 72.3%. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 52.2% of the vote (6,770 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 46.3% (5,998 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (134 votes), among the 12,958 ballots cast by the township's 16,558 registered voters, for a turnout of 78.3%. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 55.9% of the vote (6,934 ballots cast), outpolling Democrat John Kerry with 43.3% (5,368 votes) and other candidates with 0.5% (87 votes), among the 12,411 ballots cast by the township's 16,057 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 77.3.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 66.7% of the vote (5,071 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 31.5% (2,396 votes), and other candidates with 1.8% (137 votes), among the 7,726 ballots cast by the township's 16,708 registered voters (122 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 46.2%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 55.9% of the vote (4,855 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 33.8% (2,930 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 8.6% (750 votes) and other candidates with 0.6% (53 votes), among the 8,681 ballots cast by the township's 16,190 registered voters, yielding a 53.6% turnout.
The Rockaway Township Public Schools serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade. As of the 2012-13 school year, the district's six schools had an enrollment of 2,426 students and 226.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 10.731. Schools in the district (with 2012-13 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are five elementary schools serving students in Kindergarten through 5th grade — Birchwood Elementary School (294 students), Catherine A. Dwyer Elementary School (309), Katherine D. Malone Elementary School (256), Dennis B. O'Brien Elementary School (299) and Stony Brook Elementary School (363) — along with Copeland Middle School for grades 6 through 8 (905).
Public school students in ninth through twelfth grades attend either Morris Hills High School (those living in the White Meadow Lake section and other southern portions of the township) or Morris Knolls High School (the remainder of the township). Morris Hills (located in Rockaway Borough, with 1,139 students as of 2012-13) also serves students from Wharton and some from Rockaway Borough (those mostly north of Route 46); Morris Knolls (located in Denville, with 1,644 students) serves all students from Denville and portions of Rockaway Borough (those mostly south of Route 46). The The Academy for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering, a magnet high school program that is part of the Morris County Vocational School District is jointly operated on the Morris Hills campus. The two high schools are part of the Morris Hills Regional High School District.
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 122.69 miles (197.45 km) of roadways, of which 101.06 miles (162.64 km) were maintained by the municipality, 3.53 miles (5.68 km) by Morris County and 2.19 miles (3.52 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Route 15 clips the southwestern portion of the township while U.S. Route 46 cuts through the southernmost area. Interstate 80 passes through the township, including exits 35 and 37. County Route 513 traverses a total of 14 miles (23 km) north-south across the township.
NJ Transit train service does not stop in the township, but is accessible at the Denville station on both the Morristown Line and the Montclair-Boonton Line.
NJ Transit bus service is provided on the 880 local route, which replaced service that had been provided up to 2010 on the MCM10 route.
NJ Transit eliminated service on the MCM5 and MCM7 routes as part of budget cuts.
Lakeland Bus Lines offers bus service from the Rockaway Townsquare Mall to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.
There are five companies of the Rockaway Township Fire Department. Each company is all-volunteer and provides emergency medical services in addition to fire protection. The five stations are:Hibernia Company #1
Mount Hope Company #2
Marcella Company #3, covering the northern portion of the township
Birchwood Company #4 covers the area around the Rockaway Townsquare Mall
White Meadow Lake Company #5, covers the southern portion of the township
The 2003 independent film, The Station Agent, was filmed at various locations in the northern part of the township and elsewhere in the surrounding Morris County area.
The North Jersey Lakers, an Eastern Basketball Alliance team, play in Newfoundland.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Rockaway Township include:Lou Benfatti (born 1971), former defensive tackle for the New York Jets (1994–1996).
Neal Casal, (born 1968), musician/photographer, member of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals.
Silas Duncan (1788-1834), recognized for his service in the United States Navy during the War of 1812 for his actions at the Battle of Lake Champlain.
Frank Herbert, (born 1931), English teacher and politician who served in the New Jersey Senate from 1978 to 1982.
Clifford Meth (born 1961), author and editor, lived in Rockaway from 1963–1980 and often references the town as the home of his fictional character "Hank Magitz".
E. Bertram Mott (1879-1961), Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee from 1927 to 1934 who served as County Clerk of Morris County for more than 50 years.
Raymond T. Odierno (born 1954), Lieutenant General, United States Army and Commander US III Corps. A key officer in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Currently he is the Chief of Staff of the Army.
Robert A. Roe (1924-2014), politician who represented New Jersey in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1993.