CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Township Planning Board voted, 8-0, moving forward to recommend that the Chatham Township Committee adopt an amendment that will rezone the 30-plus acres known as Dixiedale Farm from single-family to multi-family housing at a meeting that drew a crowd of residents on Monday night.

Two conceptual plans on the development of Dixiedale Farm into 25 duplexes and four additional units, and the contingent plan to build a three-story building that would accommodate 24 Affordable Housing units near the Skate Park on Southern Boulevard were presented to the board.

The deal to sell the Christmas Tree farm located between Hillside Avenue and River Road to developer Sterling Properties, in partnership with Sun Homes, would build 25 duplexes, preserve the mansion on the property and add four units and a clubhouse. Land-use lawyer Douglas Henshaw said duplexes planned are projected to sell for $1.2 to $1.5 million each.

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In exchange for the rezoning of the Dixiedale property for development, Sterling Properties and Sun Homes have offered to build the affordable housing development planned on the 3.8 acres owned by the Chatham Township near the police station and Skate Park on Southern Boulevard.

Chatham Township is still litigating its third round of Fair Share Housing in Superior Court and the sale of the Dixiedale property has been held up by the zoning for a year and a half.

The plan to build a three-story apartment building that would provide 24 low-to-moderate income housing on Southern Boulevard, would potentially keep the Skate Park intact. The 3.8 acres on Southern Boulevard already has been designated as an area in need of development. However, the Affordable Housing complex on Southern Boulevard cannot be finalized until the Department of Environmental Protection issues an Letter of Interpretation (LOI) in regard to the environmental impact.

After the two plans were presented by Michael Tobia, planner for builders, Nicole Hagner, chair of the planning board, gave the public a chance to weigh in and ask questions.

Even though it wasn't a formal hearing and no one was giving sworn testimony, residents from Hillside Avenue and the Chatham Glen/Sutton Woods townhomes peppered Tobia with questions about density and traffic.

Hillside Avenue resident Laura Jones expresses her concern about the Dixiedale development plans

Planning board member Kevin Sullivan responded (see video below) to concerns about increasing density with the development of Dixiedale Farm and the effect on school population. He noted that the owner of the property, Betsie Holt Haar, worked with Chatham Township on selling to a developer that would best preserve the land instead of a builder who would put hundreds of units on the property. 

Chatham Township planner Francis J. Banisch acknowledged the concerns of the Chatham Township residents about the changes being made to their Hillside Avenue and River Road neighborhoods. But he also offered the "unique opportunity" (see video below) being presented by the builder, which helped avoid a much denser plan from being implemented on the land with another builder.

In other business, the board gave approval to Oak Knoll School to resurface its athletic field, which is located in Chatham Township on Green Village Road.