Berkeley Heights Council OKs Resolution Designating 5 Properties for Redevelopment

Mayor Robert Woodruff listens to Councilman Ed Delia explain why he opposes including the Snyder Avenue properties in need of non-condemnation redevelopment.   Credits: Barbara Rybolt
On Friday, June 2, 2017 Superior Court Judge ruled against Dr. Thomas Foregger's attempt to obtain an unredacted police department invoice related to the Winter Walk in 2016.   Credits: Barbara Rybolt - TAPinto Archive
Township John Bussiculo holds up an example of the new street signs which will be installed in the township.   Credits: Barbara Rybolt

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The council approved the resolution that five lots be designated as areas in need of non-condemnation redevelopment at its meeting on Tuesday.

The lots are: three on Snyder Avenue, adjacent to the sewage treatment plant; the library lot on Plainfield Avenue; and the lot on Hamilton Avenue which is home to the Church of the Little Flower Upper Church and associated buildings.

Council member Jeanne Kingsley recused herself because she had sat on the finance committee of the Church of the Little Flower in 2011. Council Member Kevin Hall was not present. The final vote was 3-1 with councilmen Craig Pastore, Thomas Pirone and Marc Faecher voting "Yes," and Councilman Ed Delia voting, "Hell no!"

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Before the vote, Delia said he opposed the inclusion of the lots on Snyder Avenue because, "We need the land" for any future expansion of the sewage treatment plant.  He asked the council to "please do not turn the property on Snyder into condos" and called the idea of building condos in the area "crazy."

In 2008, those lots were designated in a COAH plan as a site on which 36 units of senior housing would be built, although it has not yet been re-zoned for that purpose. The council will learn by the end of the year whether its plan for affordable housing has been accepted by the courts and that may impact future zoning decisions.

Delia also objected to including the library lot in the resolution because it says to him, "the church is not staying in town."

Faecher said adopting the resolution did not mean anything was set in stone, "This give us optionality."

After the vote, resident Stephen Yellin asked if the council would be able "to commit to not using (the Snyder lots) for housing."

Township Attorney Joseph Sordillo said at this point nothing prohibits it being used to expand the sewer plant but, when Yellin, pushed harder for a "straw poll" of the council on this issue, Sordillo said, "Because we are under litigation, my advice is to not make a commitment."

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