CHATHAM, NJ - Traffic studies and the impact on schools dominated the questions asked by Chatham residents during the second virtual town hall meeting on the River Road Redevelopment project held Thursday night.
Jonathan Schwartz of Chatham River Road Partners, the designated developer; Annie Hindenlang, a planner from Topology, and traffic engineer Gary Dean were the presenters for the Zoom call that drew 68 residents to the forum.
A third virtual town hall is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
There will be 259 rental units in the building that will start out as three stories at the corner of Watchung Avenue and River Road and then rise to four stories along River Road. The height limit for the building is 48 to 50 feet, according to Hindenlang.
Schwartz said that 251 of the apartments would be 1 or 2 bedroom units and that there would be eight 3-bedroom units set aside as part of the 39 affordable housing units (15 percent of the total).
Schwartz represents the family-owned BNE Real Estate Group, which owns 10,000 rental apartments in New Jersey. He said that there would be 500 covered parking spaces located under the building.
In addition, there will be a 24/7 doorman on duty with 24-hour concierge service. There will be approximately two spaces provided for each of the units. Schwartz estimated the price range as between $2,500 and $2,600 per month for 1-bedroom; $3,200 to $3,500 for 2-bedroom units.
Schwartz also said the amenities for the "Class A" building would include a rooftop pool, a game room, a golf simulator and a fitness center.
Schwartz said that traffic would be mitigated by the widening of the intersection at Watchung and River Road, an extended left-turn lane and the shuttle bus service to and from the Chatham Borough Train Station, free of charge to residents. He also said there will be four or five work offices for those wishing to work from home.
"We feel that will do the trick," Schwartz said.
A number of people asked about the impact on the school system, which was addressed in the first town hall on Jan. 7. Vince DeNave, Chatham Borough engineer, reiterated that talks have already begun with Chatham Superintendent Michael LaSusa and that it will be a "collaborative" effort with the BOE.
"We're not going to let it hurt you," DeNave said. "It's expected to generate 10 times the tax revenue currently collected."
The PILOT deal (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) has not been finalized yet, so DeNave could not say what the school district might receive out of the deal.
"At this point, there is no pie to cut," DeNave said.
Dean said that he included the potential traffic that will be generated by the 54 luxury townhomes scheduled to be built on Hillside Avenue in Chatham Township in his study. The study also extended into Summit and up to Fairmount Avenue in the borough.
Schwartz acknowledged that there are some groundwater and soil contamination issues that will need to be remedied before any construction can begin. Once the site meets state NJ DEP standards, it will take about 2 1/2 years to complete the project.
Any PILOT agreement would have to be adopted via ordinance by the Borough of Chatham Council. A redevelopment agreement with Chatham River Road Partners could be passed by resolution. The vote on such a resolution could come as ear;y as February, according to Hindenlang.