BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Most people in town refer to the land at the end of Lone Pine Drive as the Spatz Property. After last night’s meeting of the Planning Board, the appropriate name is “Mill Creek.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 15, the Planning Board reviewed the Redevelopment Plan for this property at the request of the council to see if it meets the requirement of the settlement agreement with the developers and is consistent with the master plan. This was yet another step in satisfying the requirements to build affordable housing units in the township and one that has been made for each of the other developments which have received preliminary and final site plan approval from the planning board.
Michael Mistretta, the township’s planner used renderings to help him describe the redevelopment plan for a 170-unit building, of which 26 units will be affordable housing. The density is 31 units per acre. The building will include three landscaped interior courtyards totaling 12,255-square-feet, a roof top deck of about 3,000-square-feet, some 6,640-square-feet of indoor amenity space, and interior and exterior parking for residents. The developer will also make street scape improvements similar to those of other developers in the area, so all is consistent. Even the materials and look of the building will be similar to the Stratton House, which will be built on the former King’s property.
Mistretta said, “This project will be seen by more people passing by on the train,” than anyone except people who live there. The parking garage will actually back up to the NJ Transit rail line, keeping the majority of the units away from the trains and the associated noise.
Asked if this development and others would “increase traffic in the town,” Mistretta answered, “Absolutely.” He noted Sherman Avenue will be much more utilized than it is now, and even the movie theatre project feeds into Sherman Avenue, not Springfield.
Having heard that, members of the board expressed their concern about Lone Pine Road, which won’t be able to be widened, and about traffic traveling along Sherman Avenue to Plainfield Avenue, in hopes of avoiding the light at the end of Lone Pine.
Board member Jeanne Kingsley said she thought that one of the changes that would need to be made would be to install a traffic light at the intersection of Sherman and Plainfield avenues, or possibly the Park Avenue intersection, and "sync" it to the Springfield Avenue light.
Mistretta reminded everyone that each of the developments in the area, Stratton House, the theatre project and the smaller one on the Mondelli property all have the same information about traffic in the area and will “have to talk to each other. Everybody has to contribute,” to resolving traffic issues, he said. There will be traffic studies done by all the developers, some using the same traffic engineer, and all that information will be provided to all the developers.
Those requirements are in the settlement plan and in the redevelopment plan that was before the board Wednesday night. In the end, the board will be tasked to “look at this as we do every other application,” he said.
The vote was unanimous for the planning board to adopt the redevelopment plan, as presented.
The next step is for the developers to prepare a detailed site plan, Mistretta said.