MILLBURN, NJ - As the date for a public hearing and potential final approval of a settlement between the township and a developer grows nearer, Millburn Township held an information session for residents to ask questions and give further input on the measure.
Ordinance 2542-19 will have its second reading at the township committee meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17. The ordinance would approve a settlement between the township and the Silverman Group regarding the proposed development at 85 Woodland Road.
Development on the site, as specified by the proposed settlement would consist of 62 units, plus space on the ground floor for the Summit Medical Group. The proposed development is situated in the vicinity of the Short Hills Train Station, and if built, would also back up to the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum.
The settlement calls for the development to have four stories, which would equate to approximately 40 feet in height. The height of the property, the potential traffic and crowding it would cause near the train station and the safety issues for children in nearby Glenwood Elementary School are some of the major concerns residents have.
As a result of back to school night being on the same night as the forum, Glenwood parents were unable to be in attendance, a decision that several residents expressed their displeasure with.
Those in attendance at Tuesday's meeting were able to ask questions of three township officials; township attorney Kit Falcon, planning board attorney Ed Buzak and township planner Paul Phillips. Millburn Township Administrator Alex McDonald moderated and pitched in on answers.
Speaking with TAPinto after the meeting, McDonald said that he felt having the information out there for the town's residents was helpful, especially before next week's final meeting.
"I think that the township and the township committee asking that the professionals and myself come out for a special session to help answer questions and to help shed some light on the current situation the township faces was a very positive move," McDonald said. "At least providing that, so that on September 17th, the residents of Millburn are a little bit more informed about the situation facing the township of Millburn."
However, residents still had concerns, which they did voice to the township officials at the front of the room. Stephanie Nesser was one of those residents.
In her time before the panel, Nesser spoke about her belief that the developers have not looked at how the proposed building would fit into the immediate area. As she spoke before the officials, Nesser laid out what she saw as the main issue residents have with the proposed settlement between the town and the developer.
"If I was Silverman, I would take a good hard look at how this development is so grossly uncharacteristic of the surrounding neighborhood in terms of size, height and sheer square feet," Nesser said. "I would also study its impact on town schools, town traffic, flooding, sewage and train crowding in both Short Hills and Millburn."
Another resident who also expressed concerns with the project and settlement was Bebe Shear. Shear had spoken at township meetings about the woodland road project before and is part of a group of township residents who have worked to bring the issue to light in town.
Shear spoke with TAPinto after the meeting as well and echoed Nesser in saying that she felt the information received from the panel was incomplete.
"They wouldn't tell us what the worst-case scenario would be that we have to fear, and so I don't think they made a very good argument for not going forward to trial on this." Shear said. "I think we should go forward to trial rather than give in to the developer."
"This project is just not suitable for the site in which it is planned," Shear added. "It occupies practically every inch of the site. Way too many people, way too much building for such a small site. Especially in a residential neighborhood, which Glenwood is."
Following this public information session, the township committee will hold another public session at the meeting on Sept. 17, after which the final passage of the ordinance will be put to a vote.