Real Estate

Chatham Borough Engineer: Where will the 8,900 Cars Go if Hillside Avenue is Turned into a Cul-de-sac?

Vince DeNave, Chatham Borough engineer, talks about the traffic patterns on Hillside Avenue at the council meeting held Monday night Credits: TAP Chatham
Council member Peter Hoffman talks about the options for Hillside Avenue on Monday Credits: TAP Chatham
Hugh Ames, Hillside Avenue resident, asks the council to consider a gate on his street to control the expected increase in traffic because of the Dixiedale development Credits: TAP Chatham
Regina Degnan stated that the developers were receiving advanced concession from Chatham Township in the rezoning plan for Dixiedale Farm Credits: TAP Chatham
Peter Druhot, a resident of Willow Street, warned that a Cul-de-sac or dead end on Hillside Avenue would cause traffic problems on other streets in the borough Credits: TAP Chatham
Hillside Avenue resident brought up the idea of making Hillside into a one-way street like the upper portion of Washington Avenue Credits: TAP Chatham
Chatham Township resident John Strelkoff urged Chatham Borough residents to attend the Dec. 14 Chatham Township Committee meeting to oppose the rezoning ordinance Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Borough Engineer Vince DeNave summed up the conundrum before Chatham residents and council members when it comes to the prospect of turning Hillside Avenue into a Cul-de-sac: "Where are the cars going to go?"

Chatham Township's move to rezone the 30-acre Dixiedale Farm property from single-family to multi-family homes has ignited a push-back reaction from Chatham Borough residents of Hillside Avenue. A discussion on the subject was part of the agenda at the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night.

The discussion about how to deal with the inevitable development of Dixiedale has focused on turning Hillside Avenue into a dead end or a Cul-de-sac at the border between the towns near Woods Lane.

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"My only concern is the 8,900 cars per week that travel on Hillside Avenue towards River," DeNave said. "Two-thirds of the cars are going in that direction (towards the township). My concern is what's going to happen. What does that do to Watchung, Lackawanna. We have to look at the impacts of that." 

According to DeNave, there are two issues with turning Hillside Avenue into a dead end or Cul-de-sac: Traffic created by the new development and current traffic on the road.

"(Hillside is) very narrow in parts, there are 90-degree bends in the roadway," DeNave said. "You can't widen it without significant expense. There are certainly challenges. A Cul-de-sac sounds great until you consider, where are the cars going to go?"

Hillside resident John Soriano suggested making Hillside Avenue a one-way street as another option in solving the anticipated traffic problems the new development could create. Council member Jim Lonergan expressed optimism about the suggestion, which would make it a one-way street similar to the way Washington Avenue is currently designated as one-way above Watchung Avenue.

Peter Druhot, a resident of Willow Street, warned that making Hillside Avenue into a Cul-de-sac would push the traffic onto other streets off of Hillside.

"I don't want to solve one problem and create three more," Druhot said. 

DeNave announced that the planner for the developers of Dixiedale Farm, Mike Tobia, was willing to meet with Chatham Borough residents and a sitdown could be set up in the next week.

"They are willing to meet with us, but they want to make the meeting productive," DeNave said. "They've heard the residents' concerns. I know that they have been looking into making an interior road to River (Road) and they don't think it is going to be feasible. Their concern was that it's going to be less productive if they keep hearing the same things over and over. I think we're at the point now where some representation from residents, without having more than this many residents, would be better."

Tobia has given two presentations on the "conceptual plan," one at a Chatham Township Planning Board meeting and another at a Chatham Township Committee meeting before any ordinances were introduced. At both presentations, Tobia answered questions from the public.

Because the rezoning is "inconsistent" with Chatham Township's Master Plan, the Chatham Township Committee need a supermajority vote (at least 4-1) to adopt the rezoning ordinance for Dixiedale Farm at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Mayor Bruce Harris and attorney James Lott report on the process for turning a road into a cul-de-sac

Council member Jim Lonergan and Woods Lane resident Regina Degnan discuss the plan by Chatham Township to rezone Dixiedale Farm to multi-family zoning

Council member Peter Hoffman talks about his communication with the Chatham Township Committee



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