The New Vernon Neighborhood Restrictive Agreement was founded in 1928 by landowners, in which they agreed to voluntarily enter into restrictive agreements on their lands that would require future landowners to preserve the rural nature of the area. These voluntary efforts to limit development and save pastoral qualities of more than 4.0 km2 in Harding Township influenced subsequent shingle codes, which emerged a few decades later, helping to preserve the landscape to this day. The new inhabitants of the early 20th century had the resources to acquire large areas, much of which was subject to the New Vernon Neighborhood Restrictive Agreement. This agreement essentially provided Harding with an early form of zoning, albeit quite private. The contract states that “the real estate included in this agreement shall not be traded, produced or traded in any form, unless new agreements are duly amended and appropriately accepted by the owners concerned.” The communal shingles, which largely limited development to low-density residential construction, was put into effect for the first time shortly thereafter. In Harding, little changed until after the Second World War. Described by the New York Times in 1973 as “one of the most restrictive and elegant suburbs in New Jersey” and in 1998 as a “Morris County Township tributary”, the municipality was one of the wealthiest municipalities in the state. Harding Township had a per capita income of 109,472 $US and became in New Jersey on First Place in New Jersey based on data from the 2006-2010 U.S. Office Community Survey, more than three times the national average of $34,858.  Based on ACS data for 2014-18, Harding Township, with an average household income of $183,587, ranked sixth in the federal government and nearly half of households earning more than $200,000 a year.  In 1920, they founded the New Vernon Land Company to buy back and control open spaces within the commune under the New Vernon Neighborhood Restrictive Agreement.
Subscribers to the private agreement “committed to limiting commercial exploitation and distribution of ownership until 1965” and to defining a minimum area of three hectares; Although there is verbal consent that ten hectares would be the minimum. Among the historical resources of this period are many preserved lands and the rural landscapes associated with them, preserved by the efforts of this American elite. Tunis-Ellicks Farmhouse: The Harding Township Historical Society retains the 1790 Getis-Ellicks farm and gardens, opposite the Post Office of New Vernon, at the corner of Millbrook and Village Roads. Partly furnished with antique furniture, the house is open to the public several times a year. A 19th century “tramp house” is also on the property. Harding`s attempts to preserve its natural environment included the base`s efforts to prevent the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge from becoming an airport in the 1960s. A group of residents purchased the land to prevent the New York Port Authority from building a jetport on the site. Half of the 7,000-hectare nature reserve is located in the southeast corner of the harding township and is home to deer, woodwoods, red foxes, the endangered Bobolink and other birds and animals. The shelter sponsors natural programs, field trips and educational events throughout the year.