BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Tuesday night more than 30 people chatted in the audience for almost an hour as they waited for council members to return from an unexpected Executive Session that was announced immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance.
The topic of the session was an update on an earlier request by Warren Township to Berkeley Heights as to the ability of Berkeley Heights to provide wastewater treatment for three of the many proposed developments in Warren Township, near Emerson Lane. The settlement approved by Warren with the Fair Share Housing Center calls for a total of 1,048 new homes, of which 362 will be affordable units.
Since the Oct. 10 meeting, the township bond counsel Matt Jessup, who is representing Berkeley Heights in the wastewater treatment matter, and Township Administrator John Bussiculo met with Warren officials to discuss the situation and to learn exactly what Warren planned to do.
Previously they had met with “stake-holders” in Berkeley Heights to see what their concerns were about the proposed developments.
After meeting with Warren Township on Nov. 8, Jessup said he and Bussiculo learned:
1. Warren is only asking Berkeley Heights to provide sewage treatment for one property, the one which was proposed as a site for the Berkeley Aquatic Club (BAC), in 2012. Under the settlement, the developer, K-Hovanian, “K.Hov,” will be permitted to build a 192-unit housing development with 144 market-rate town homes and 48 affordable units on that property.
2. Warren has a “fairness hearing” on Dec. 4, which will determine if the settlement provides low- and middle-income people the chance to rent or purchase affordable housing.
3. Warren is using a “traditional zoning process,” not the “redevelopment process” used by Berkeley Heights.
4. Warren was unaware of the concerns of Berkeley Heights’ residents in regards to:
A. Pedestrian safety
B. Traffic and traffic safety
C. Impacts to infrastructure, including electric service
D. Storm water runoff
E. Noise and air pollution
F. Visual Buffers and other environmental concerns.
5. Warren residents who attended stake-holder meetings doubted Warren officials would listen to these concerns.
6. The property under discussion is located in a specific wastewater service area established by the NJDEP where wastewater is to go to Berkeley Heights.
Jessup said it was his opinion that representative of “Warren Township haven’t heard these concerns before” and that these are issues the Warren Planning Board nears to hear about. He said, “We reminded them the Planning Board accepted a traffic study (on the BAC property) taken on a public holiday.”
There were no commitments made by Berkeley Heights representatives at the Nov. 8 meeting. The process is just beginning her said and, since it is not a redevelopment process, the Warren Planning Board will be directly involved.