Government

Proposed Construction at Summerhill/Old Stage Intersection Causes Residents Concern

93dda3a677e21cfd2d5e_IMG_8147.jpg
The intersection of Summerhill Road and Old Stage Road in East Brunswick and Spotswood. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
22a30e1c2aeac9ae423f_IMG_8148.jpg
The trail guide for Frost Woods near the Summerhill Road Entrance Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
96332a7595699479df6d_IMG_8149.jpg
The trailhead closest to Summerhill Road. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
4360cef542028443583f_IMG_8150.jpg
2.4 miles of trails through Frost Woods Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
86a37f8f99e91a0d1125_c452501041b2763f05ef_IMG_8151.JPG
Frost Woods, like other locations in East Brunswick, is the backyard for an entire neighborhood. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
81cd1746480ba4c1f78f_IMG_8153.jpg
The Frost Woods trail off New Brunswick Avenue Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
93dda3a677e21cfd2d5e_IMG_8147.jpg

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The proposed construction of a multi-use set of buildings at the corner of Summerhill Road and Old Stage Road has residents in the southern end of the township in an uproar.  The construction, located at a a busy intersection that East Brunswick shares with Spotswood, is the designated site for 3 4-story residential buildings; a bank; a club house; 291 parking spaces, and a CVS.  (Note:  There are 259 parking spaces there now.) The residential buildings, which would be the tallest structures at that end of town, would house 120 apartments with 24 of them designated as "affordable housing,"  in compliance with the township's affordable housing plan settlement by the court-imposed deadline of December, 2016.

The property at 377 Summerhill Road was sold by developer Mack-Cali to HD Summerhill LLC of Montville, NJ on September 11, 2017 for $3,700,000, though the assessed value of the property is $1,210,000according to njparcels.com.  The corner building has housed the Greater New York Mutual Insurance Company.  The building and the large parking lot that adjoins it cover 10.32 acres in the township.  The lot is adjacent to Frost Woods, which claims 2.4 miles of wooded trails that serve as the "backyard" for residents in that section of East Brunswick.

On November 16, 2016, Planning Board Member Howard Schmidt expressed concern about developing the property: "I know how difficult that intersection is.  It borders an adjacent community.  It's patrolled by 2 police  departments, and I've seen a lot of accidents at that intersection over many years."  He went on to discuss the "stacking" (backup of cars) at the location several times a day.  He doubted that the intersection could handle the cars exiting and entering from a large-volume residential unit, calling the idea "a disaster."

Sign Up for E-News

His point, at the time, was countered by Greg Potkulski, director of East Brunswick's Zoning Department, who envisioned the location as a "a daycare center with maybe some townhouses."  However, members of the Planning Board were concerned about the Council on Affordable Housing litigation (COAH) that has been impacting many towns in New Jersey and East Brunswick's compliance.  In 2016, it seems there was no specific direction for the use of the property.

As a result of the COAH settlement, East Brunswick was required to provide 315 additional units of affordable housing in 2016 according to the COAH. Current planning projects that 115 of those units would be made available in the Redevelopment Zone in the north end of town near Lawrence Brook and the New Jersey Turnpike.  200 units would then be spread evenly throughout East Brunswick, with 24 of them at this location. 

Last week, East Brunswick residents within 200 feet of the site received a letter regarding the Zoning Board's scheduled vote on the use of the site as both a residential and commercial location.  Additional variance requests refer to signage and landscaping, but the variance to allow the high-capacity housing and the height of the new buildings is driving the most concern among locals in both East Brunswick and Spotswood. 

At 8:00 pm on May 17 at the East Brunswick Municipal Building, the East Brunswick Zoning Board will vote on whether or not to allow a "D" variance to the developer of this property so that the 4-story apartments could be built.  A “D” variance is a request to use property in a way contrary to the township's zoning plan.  At least five members of the Zoning Board must vote affirmative for a "D" variance to be granted.  

Local resident Kerri Fitzpatrick has even started a webpage to encourage residents of to attend the meeting.  

In an interview with TAPinto East Brunswick, Fitzpatrick encouraged East Brunswick residents to "protect their investment" in their neighborhood.  "You are diminishing the value of East Brunswick, the reason we all chose to live here," she said to her neighbors and other residents of East Brunswick.  Fitzpatrick was most concerned about the loss of a sense of community, the impact on property values in the neighborhood, and the encroachment on Frost Woods, which she sees as a "special place" in the township.  "What does this bring to our neighborhood? An overload at Frost school, a third East Brunswick CVS, and more traffic?" she asked.

"Frost Woods is not a park.  It's a different experience," said Fitzpatrick, who runs a public relations company in New York City.  "There are lots of neighborhood entrances that students use to get to school and people use to get some quiet space." 

TAPinto East Brunswick contacted the township administration who does not wish to be perceived as influencing the Zoning Board.  Mayor Cohen encourages citizens to voice their concerns at the May 17 meeting which is open to the public. TAP has also tried to contact HD Summerhill LLC and was directed to a FAX line.  A call and an e-mail have been placed to Mack-Cali regarding this property.

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

Inclusion Center to Start Programs on June 2

May 23, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Disability Allies, Inc. (DA), a 501(c)(3) organization based in East Brunswick opened the Young Adult Inclusion Center on April 28, 2018 is featuring a variety of programs to Young Adults with Special Needs in the following areas: Technology, Music, Theatre/Drama, Cooking/Baking, Arts & Crafts, and Poetry & Creative Writing. The programs are set to begin on June ...

Learn How to “Ace The Interview” at the East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Looking for a new job? East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) is here to help. The library offers a special program called “Acing the Interview” on Saturday, June 16 at 10:30 am, which is designed to help jobseekers.

“Acing the Interview” focuses on what many feel is the most stressful part of the job search process: ...

East Brunswick Public Library Launches “EB Grow” Seed Library

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Every spring, library customers visit East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) to find resources on how to garden. Thanks to a joint partnership between East Brunswick Public Library and the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, gardeners will be able to get some “seed money” to start their first crops for the year.

The ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

Letter to the Editor: "We Seek Clarity, Support" from Mayor Regarding Development on Summerhill Road

May 10, 2018

Dear Mayor Cohen:  

Thank you.  Your issued statement last night regarding the current development plans for the intersection of Summerhill and Old Stage Roads - which will be under discussion at the May 17 zoning board meeting in East Brunswick, is a welcome voice. 

Like you, we have a vision for East Brunswick and share your desire for smart redevelopment that ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...