Business & Finance

Testimony Continues on 349 Non Age-Restricted Apts. in Pine Brook

Attorney John Inglesino Credits: Melissa Benno
Professional Planner Art Bernard, left, testifies Credits: Melissa Benno
Professional Planner John Szabo, right Credits: Melissa Benno

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Zoning Board of Adjustments held its fourth hearing regarding an application to build 349 non age-restricted rental units on the former site of GI Auto Salvage in the Pine Brook section of town.

Avalon Bay Communities, LLC, has purchased the property at 85 Bloomfield Avenue. The site was a junkyard for 50 years and has soil contamination, according to Avalon Bay’s attorney John Inglesino. Age-restricted housing is a permitted use for the site, but the applicant is proposing non-age restricted units, thus requiring the hearings. 

Inglesino started the May 3 hearing by stating Avalon Bay had originally applied for three variances: use (ie, non-age restricted housing), height, and including more than six units per building. Inglesino stated the height and density variances were being withdrawn at this time, but may be sought at a different time. The only variance sought with the current application is the age restriction, he said.

Sign Up for E-News

Professional Planner Art Bernard presented testimony that he had reviewed approximately 12 documents regarding the site, including the 2010 land use plan, the July 2014 Burgis and Associates planning analysis performed on the property for the Montville Township Committee, the Montville Township School District’s 2016 demographics study (discussed in this article), and several other land use documents. He also visited the site, he said.

He described the site as approximately 39 acres, sited below Route 46, adjacent to the Passaic River and constrained by a flood plain and wetlands. He said the applicant will include a set-aside for low- and moderate-income housing.

Bernard stated that household size has been decreasing in New Jersey for more than 40 years, and in Montville, 50.8% of households are one- and two-person households. Census figures show that “roughly two-thirds of households do not have a child under 18,” he said. He cited Jeffrey Otteau’s March 16 testimony which stated a need for rental housing for the age group of those 35 and younger and 60 and older.

Bernard said the Burgis report acknowledges that luxury rentals cater to younger people and empty nesters, and they generate fewer school children, at a rate of .084 public school children per unit. He stated the Burgis report did not find Rachel Garden Apartments to be comparable to this situation since the rents are much lower.

“We know that there’s a demand for rental housing,” Bernard said. “What we don’t know is what your ordinance would permit.” Bernard said he reviewed the ordinance, compared the zoning map, and found there’s virtually no vacant land zoned for non age-restricted apartments in Montville Township. He said the master plan does not recognize the trend toward smaller households.

Bernard talked about affordable housing and the litigation in the state of New Jersey, and said it’s possible Montville Township will receive two units of credit towards their state affordable housing obligation for every unit Avalon Bay sets aside as affordable housing. He said age-restricted housing would not result in such a credit towards affordable housing requirements. Affordable housing will be the subject of a public information session at the township committee meeting on May 23.

“The proposed housing is not that different in character from the age-restricted housing that’s permitted, because it’s going to attract few children per household,” Bernard said. “It attracts adults looking for maintenance-free housing with an active-amenity package and high levels of service.”

The township’s consulting professional planner, John Szabo said he did not think the board should act on the application because it represented a zoning change, which the board is not permitted to do. He said a proposal for the site had been presented to the township committee three years ago, Burgis Associates had written the 42-page planning report about the site, and the township committee had not acted on the proposal. He worried it would “usurp” the authority of the governing body. He said he also worried about the ramifications for the affordable housing litigation.

On cross-examination, Inglesino asked Szabo if it was not, in fact, the job of the zoning board to usurp the authority of the governing body with variances? Szabo replied that it depends on the context. Inglesino asked Szabo if the governing body did not “choose not to embark on the redevelopment process, rather than not approve the plan based on its merits.”

Szabo said he had no specific knowledge of the decision. When Inglesino said Szabo’s statement that “approval would be usurping” was unfounded, Szabo said it was not. Szabo said the last page of the Burgis report states that if the township wishes to pursue the changes, it should amend the zoning ordinance and amend the master plan, or pursue redevelopment status, and none of these options had ever been pursued.

Questions from the public centered on affordable housing clarifications and especially on the number of children the development would generate. Inglesino stated the number of school children generated by an application is not the basis to deny an application under New Jersey state law.

The next hearing on this application will be July 5.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Montville

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_8a05ed9e1458d6aa68ae_img_8465a

Tue, August 22, 7:45 PM

Montville Township High School, Montville

Montville Township Board of Education Meeting

Education

Carousel_image_8a05ed9e1458d6aa68ae_img_8465a

Tue, September 5, 7:45 PM

Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Board of Education Meeting

Education

Carousel_image_2f5e22fedbc0839027fd_township_logo

Tue, September 12, 8:00 PM

Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Committee Meeting

Government

Carousel_image_8a05ed9e1458d6aa68ae_img_8465a

Tue, September 19, 7:45 PM

Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Board of Education Meeting

Education

Carousel_image_2f5e22fedbc0839027fd_township_logo

Tue, September 26, 8:00 PM

Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Committee Meeting

Government

Montville Township Public Library to Hold Focus Groups

August 11, 2017

Dear Montville Library Patrons:

The library wants to hear from you!

The Board of Trustees and library staff are working with Library Development Solutions, a consulting firm, to develop new strategic and technology plans for the library. These plans will serve as blueprints for service enhancements and improvements for the next several years, and will set the course for our future. Our goal ...

Lazar Living Lessons Series: Eugenie Mukeshimana, Rwandan Survivor

August 12, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ - When discussing the value of the Living Lessons presentations at Lazar Middle School this past spring, eighth grader Katie DeAngelis said it well, “When you are at an all-time low, there is always hope.”

And hope was the theme of many, if not all, of the 50 speakers who spoke at the event.

The Living Lessons program: Voices, Visions and Values ...

Four Police Officers Among 12 Carbon Monoxide Victims in Mount Olive

August 15, 2017

MOUNT OLIVE, NJ - Twelve people, including four police officers, were rushed to hospitals on Monday after becoming victims of carbon monoxide poisoning at a house in Flanders, according to a fire officials.

The incident took place at a house at 3 Fennimore Court, said Flanders Firefighter Doug Fenichel, a public relations specialist, in a statement. He said Roxbury firefighters were among a ...

Before Trump Broke Up Biz Council, Johnson & Johnson CEO Resigned

August 16, 2017

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The head of Johnson & Johnson decided to step down from President Donald Trump's Manufacturing Council today, prior to its disbandment, according to the company.

Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of the New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson, announced his exit in a statement, following reports published yesterday, Aug. 15., which said he planned to remain ...

Re/Max Neighborhood Properties New Listings

August 14, 2017

Click HERE to see all new listings!

Columns

Open Houses on Sunday by Century 21 The Crossing

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are open houses by Century 21 The Crossing on Sunday, Aug. 13:

804 Route 202, Towaco from 1 - 4 p.m.
25 Hillcrest Road, Towaco from 1 - 4 p.m.
25 High Mountain Drive, Montville from 1 - 4 p.m.

 

How to Survive After the Kids Leave for College

Many of you are sending your kids off to college soon, and maybe for the first time. I’ve been there, twice.  And now my daughter lives overseas!  Most of the time I’m okay with it… you get used to it, you know?  But sometimes when she sends me little notes, or we chat on Skype, I miss her again. She’s clever and loving and generous, and so very courageous ...

Pet Corner