Business & Finance

Cranford and Clark Residents Clash with Hartz Mountain Representatives at Community Meeting

Cranford and Clark residents went back and forth with representatives of Hartz Mountain over schools, traffic and more. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
Cranford and Clark residents went back and forth with representatives of Hartz Mountain over schools, traffic and more. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
A mockup of Hartz Mountain Industries proposed apartments at 750 Walnut Avenue in Cranford. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna

CRANFORD, NJ – Hartz Mountain Industries had a panel of experts in traffic, finance and architecture available to address a roomful of angry Cranford residents on Thursday night.

According to the representatives on behalf of Hartz Mountain Industries, the 905 apartment units are intended to draw in a mix of young professionals without children and empty-nesters who work in New York City or want to enjoy the area without the commitment of a single-family home. The project will be built in two phases, with the first phase consisting of 433 units and the second phase consisting of 472 units.

“Our goal is not to convert anyone or change minds,” Jay Rhatican, director of Land Use and Development for Hartz Mountain Industries, said.

Sign Up for E-News

To start, Rhatican introduced Keenan Hughes, a professional planner, to discuss the fiscal impact on the town and its school system. Hughes based his reports on statistics given from the township, which were met with skeptical laughter from much of the audience.

He claims that 59 children will be introduced into the school system at the end of the project’s first phase, and 122 children by the end of Phase 2. His findings were based on the number of students from the existing apartment complexes in Cranford: one student from Cranford Crossing, one from Riverfront and 10 from Woodmont. Many audience members said those numbers are false.

“They’re the numbers we have, but there’s a lot of factors you have to consider,” Cranford Board of Education President Kurt Petschow said. “We have divorced families, so it’s where the primary residence is. So we’re going to check our own numbers too, because we have a demographer that does that for us. They’re accurate to the point we know now, and they [Hartz] were given the numbers from us.”

The affordable housing component of the proposed project was a hot topic for the audience as well. Approximately 15 percent of the 905 apartments are designated as moderate and low-income housing, which includes 29 of the property’s three-bedroom units.

“If your request is not approved, do you have the ability to file a builder’s remedy lawsuit with COAH [the Council on Affordable Housing]?” Cranford resident Gabriel Bailer asked. “Is it your intent to do that?”

“Anyone has the ability to do that,” Rhatican answered.

To address traffic, Alan Lothian of Langan Engineering & Environmental Services said that Hartz Mountain industries will have a shuttle bus to bring residents to the train station, install traffic lights and signal modifications and relocate and realign the driveways of the property.

“A key component of Cranford is that they’re looking to promote more mass transit, and the residential component really lends itself to the shuttle bus, promoting direct access to the train station and giving the feeling of comfort from going right from your door to the train station with minimal impact, which reduces the traffic,” Lothian said.

“Ride the train straight to hell,” a member of the audience called out.

Lothian said the traffic impact will be minimal, based on analyses of the following intersections: Raritan Road and Walnut Avenue, North Driveway and Walnut Avenue, South Driveway and Walnut Avenue, Driveway 1 of Lexington Avenue and Walnut Avenue, Driveway 2 of Behnert Place and Walnut Avenue and Driveway 3 of Mitchell Place and Walnut Avenue.

Residents argued that many other intersections were ignored and that the traffic analyses did not include the traffic neart Walnut Avenue School.

“What about all our kids that have to cross there?” Brarbara Hudack of Cranford asked. “We don’t care about them?”

Hartz Mountain Industries representatives also cited national statistics to back up their findings as residents repeatedly questioned the numbers given regarding the amount of kids going into Cranford public schools.

“No college graduate in Cranford is going to pay $2,000 a month to live in an apartment here,” Cranford resident Nicole Quinn said. “They’ll move to Hoboken or Secaucus. You have young couples who are going to come, have babies and clog the school systems more.”

“What we’re seeing across the state is a declining birth rate,” Hughes said to Quinn, who is pregnant. “What we’re seeing tonight is comparatives in the community. As we move forward, there will be dialogue with the school district.”

Hughes also discussed the financial impact on the school system, stating that the schools will receive a $1.09 million net annual fiscal benefit at the end of phase one and a $1.91 million net annual fiscal benefit by the end of phase two.

Additionally, the audience questioned the amount of street traffic that would be caused by visitors and guests when the complex only permits one to two parking spaces per unit.

Lothian said that parking spaces will not be as much of an issue since less millennials are driving cars.

“In general, we’re finding that the number of cars are diminishing below state standards,” Lothian said. “Many millennials don’t even own a car.”

Many answers from the representatives were met with eye rolls, arguments and laughs.

“Do you guys lie as much to your wives, girlfriends and partners as you’re lying to us?” Lauren L. of Cranford asked before the meeting ended after more than two hours. “Your studies of how many cars there are is total crap. Your studies are full of fudged numbers.”

Hartz Mountain Industries will hold a similar presentation before the Cranford Township Committee at the meeting on Tuesday, July 18 at 8 p.m. Hartz Mountain Industries will ask the committee to redirect the project to the Planning Board. The application will go back and forth between the Planning Board and the Cranford Township Committee if it received further approval, Rhatican said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Cranford

Union County Daughters of Ireland Raise More Than $3,500 with Cranford Bar Crawl

September 19, 2017

CRANFORD, NJ – Union County’s women of Irish descent are coming together to build relationships, network and raise money for young women of Irish heritage.

Two Clark women, Kate Mooney and Lori Connolly, teamed up last April to start the Union County Daughters of Ireland. They were inspired by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, a group of which Mooney’s father is a proud ...

Sabattis Saved: Boy Scouts' Adventure Camp to Remain Open After Patriots’ Paths Council Executive Board Vote

September 22, 2017

CEDAR KNOLLS, NJ -- The Patriots’ Paths Council Executive Board met on Monday, Sept. 18 in a special session to discuss the future operation of Sabattis Adventure Camp, which was threatened with closure.

After thorough and thoughtful discussion, the Board voted to continue Sabbatis camping activities through the end of the 2019 summer camping season. The Board ...

Union County College to Participate in National Day of Civic Hacking

September 24, 2017

CRANFORD – Come to Union County College to participate in a free coding session on the National Day of Civic Hacking. Union’s Director of Instructional Design Beth Ritter-Guth, will lead a session on coding relief projects for those affected by the recent hurricanes at #Harvey and #Irma.

The session will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thurs., Sept. 28, 2017, at the College’s ...

Westfield Area YMCA Celebrates International Dot Day in Early Learning Programs

The Westfield Area YMCA Early Learning programs recently celebrated International Dot Day.  During this day of creativity, courage and collaboration, all classes began by reading and discussing the book “The Dot.” The classes then participated in a variety of age-appropriate activities including creating art projects with dot paints, paper circles, and other round items.  ...

It Really Doesn't Pay to Wait to Buy or Sell a Home

There will always be those who try to "time the market," but there's one factor you can't know — when buying a home will become more expensive.

Certainly you can tell from recent trends whether or not prices and mortgage interest rates are in your favor. Monthly prices have risen year-over-year for three years. Mortgage interest rates are slowly rising, but remain at ...

Cranford Police Blotter: Disorderly Conduct Arrest & More

September 25, 2017

The information provided does not represent the total scope of police activity.  Individuals charged as a result of police investigations are merely an accusation.  All defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

1.  09/20/2017 1:29 p.m.

GSP SB 137 @ E. North Avenue

Arrested: Julio Guerrero, 42, Elizabeth

Arrested by:  Det. Spencer ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, September 25, 10:00 AM

Clark Public Library, Clark

Tales for Tots

Arts & Entertainment Government

Carousel_image_7b6779c55cee07cd3ae2_new-jersey-color-with-band

Mon, September 25, 6:30 PM

Union Public Library, union

Free Small Business Workshop

Carousel_image_04d5b155b96b97b8a794_1d4v8937

Wed, September 27, 12:30 PM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Free Balance Screening

Health & Wellness

Sam Shepard's 'Simpatico' takes off

Sam Shepard’s “Simpatico” has a forceful workout at McCarter Theatre.

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, NJ – If you’re at all familiar with the works of Sam Shepard, you know that he writes about gritty, unforgiving characters in what appear to be hopeless situations.

In “Simpatico,” we learn that Vinnie and Carter are former partners in a race horse ...

A Call to Action on Healthcare

September 24, 2017

On July 29, 2016, one week after my 41st birthday, with no warning, I experienced a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. SCAD is an uncommon heart condition that causes arteries in the heart to tear, leading to a blockage of the artery, and, in my case, a heart attack.  I HAVE NO KNOWN RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE.  

I am a mother of two young children.  I am basically ...