Zoning Board Denies Towaco Townhouse Application

310f9803b1ea58e4f8e3_a_best_Marc.JPG
Marc Walker (L) shows revised proposed plans for townhouses and retail space in Towaco Credits: Melissa Benno
5416644f68c28d8fee8a_a_plan_1.JPG
Revised proposed plans for townhouses and retail space in Towaco Credits: Melissa Benno
c172e158bc20bfc1c6c2_dan.JPG
Dan Furia in August of 2016 Credits: Melissa Benno
310f9803b1ea58e4f8e3_a_best_Marc.JPG

MONTVILLE, NJ – Despite a decrease in the number of variances sought and a decrease in the number of townhouses to be built, owner Dan Furia’s application to develop 20 townhouses plus retail property at the corner of Route 202 and Indian Hill Road in Towaco was denied by a 2-5 vote by the township zoning board on Oct 5.

Members cited concerns that the application entailed re-zoning the area and did not want to set a precedent for changing what the Towaco Center Master Plan (TCMP) has indicated.

Testimony regarding this application began in August of 2015 and focused on traffic, storm water waste management, parking spaces, building height and garage layouts.

Sign Up for E-News

But by far the most hotly debated portion of the townhouse proposal was its location. The front portion of the land in question falls in the “Restricted Aquifer” zone, and the rear portion falls in the “Prime Aquifer” zone.

Hydrogeologist Vincent Uhl testified that test results showed that the prime aquifer actually lies to the north and east of the proposed site, despite the zoning designation. Uhl is an expert whose company has often worked with Montville Township regarding the aquifer.

Residents who came to the microphone at many of the hearings stated their concerns for the effect of the project on the drinking water of the town.

Much of the testimony during the hearings also centered on the Towaco Center Master Plan, adopted in 2010. The TCMP helps guide zoning decisions for the area. Residents, board members, and the applicant’s professionals referred to it consistently as their reference guide because it details the vision for what Towaco’s town center could become. The Plan was assembled following a series of public meetings between 2002 to 2007.

According to the TCMP, conforming use for the site is “mixed use,” that is, 20,000 square feet of retail space with apartments on the top floor.

Furia’s application was to build retail establishments fronting on Main Road with apartments above, combined with the 20-unit townhouse complex to the rear.

The site is about nine acres, and only approximately three would be built upon; Furia had intended to dedicate the remaining six to the township in a conservation easement according to testimony given by Marc Walker, Furia’s planner.

Walker called the proposal a “less intense use for the property.”

Changes to the drawings that were shown at the Oct. 5 Zoning Board meeting included decreasing the number of townhouse buildings to three instead of four, and the number of units was decreased to 20 from 23.

More than 6,000 sq. ft. of green space were added to the drawings to allay board members’ fears that residents would have no public open space, which also removed one of the variances sought. The new plan proposed 22 common-area parking spaces, thus removing another variance the applicant was seeking.

Lot lines were eliminated, thus eliminating the need for a variance for impervious coverage.

A variance was sought for the proposed height of the townhouse buildings in the back because they would have surpassed the 25-foot allotment by more than 10 percent; Walker stated the maximum height would have been 30.66 feet tall.

Residents had expressed concern about both the height and impervious coverage issues at prior meetings.

In his closing statement, Furia’s attorney Steven Schepis stated that the Towaco Center Master Plan is “alive and happening,” and a crucial part of the plan is the residential component. Without the residential, the commercial portion will fail, because there is too much commercial development in the Towaco Center-1 Zone and not enough residential development, he said.

“We have too many shops and stores,” he said. “How many nail salons within a two-block walking distance can you have? There’s not enough residential [development].”

“Somebody has to step up and adjust the zoning in order to accommodate what is the vision in the Towaco Center Master Plan,” Schepis said.

Schepis said the TCMP envisioned 54,000 sq. ft. of commercial space but now there’s 64,000 sq. ft. with another 4,000 on the way. He said the TC-1 Zone is designed to have 45 residential units, but only three have been developed so far.

Schepis said putting apartments above commercial in the back behind the buildings on Main Road “would be a failure,” and that this proposal would be creating the residential component that “nobody else wanted to create.” He also said that “walking down the street, you will see the streetscape envisioned in the Master Plan.”

Schepis stated that having residences in the back on the Brook Lane side would be quieter than having loud restaurants open late hours, which he implied could be built under the current zoning.

“This is an opportunity […] to create and fulfill the vision that was put forth in the TCMP and provides for something that might not comply to the letter of the ordinance, but adheres to the spirit of the Master Plan and even to the spirit of the ordinance,” Schepis said. “This is an opportunity for this board to create the town center that the township has envisioned. If this opportunity is passed by, it may not present itself again.”

Board Member-Alternate Ron Soussa was one of the two who voted in support of the project. He commented, “[Township Planning consultant] Mr. Joseph Burgis drafted the TCMP. The focus was to encourage residential development, which is needed for a symbiotic relationship. You can’t have a [transit] village without people living there. The question is whether they are in apartments or townhouses.”

 “The Planning Board spent a great deal of time within the last few years to come out with the Master Plan and the TCMP,” said Board Member Kurt Dinkelmeyer. “We have a history of respecting and considering what the Planning Board decides. We don’t have the authority to re-zone.”

Board Member Deane Driscoll called it “the most difficult decision” he’s had to make in the last 17 years.

To read the Towaco Center Master Plan, click: TCMP

To read TAPinto Montville’s coverage of the:

Aug. 5, 2015 meeting – original proposal described

Dec. 2, 2015 meeting – testimony of adjacent landowner, economic analysis testimony

Feb 3, 2016 meeting – traffic and aquifer

April 6, 2016 meeting – aquifer, price, storm water, master plan

Aug 3, 2016 meeting – drawings, garage depth, master plan

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Montville

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_4a54e154bc8054197df1_key_club_fundraiser_at_900__eatery

Wed, April 25, 4:00 PM

900 Degrees Pizza , Towaco

Key Club Fundraiser at 900° Pizza

Education Food & Drink Giving Back

Carousel_image_14f9a3068515a705aac9_library__2018_tapinto_montville

Wed, April 25, 7:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

"The U.S. Constitution" (Library Seminar)

Education Government

Carousel_image_1f6df564edc85f1c78f8_kiss

Thu, April 26, 1:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Milton Hershey: "King of Chocolate"

Arts & Entertainment Education Food & Drink

Carousel_image_b5185bee6ec1083f00ed_arbor_day_2016__2018_tapinto_montville

Fri, April 27, 9:00 AM

Amphitheater behind the Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Arbor Day Celebration

Home & Garden

Calling For The Resignation of Councilwoman June Witty

April 12, 2018

Dear Editor,

This week, Montville Township Republican Committeewoman, June Witty, posted a chart depicting a swastika that compared Democrats to Nazis on her personal Facebook page. This post by Committeewoman Witty was not only insensitive to township residents registered as Democrats but, more importantly, this post is rooted in hate and vitriol toward the Jewish Community. Anti-Semitism is ...

Arbor Day to be Celebrated on April 27

April 24, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Environmental Commission invites residents to the 20th annual Arbor Day and Poster Contest Winner celebration event, to be held Friday, April 27 at 9 a.m. at the amphitheater.

This year the commission will be honoring Montville Township High School teacher and MTHS Earth Club advisor Paul Rolfe.

Fourth graders from across the township who have ...

Short Evacuation Occurs at MTHS

April 17, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – A short evacuation occurred at Montville Township High School on April 17.

After the regular 2:10 p.m. dismissal, a fire alarm sounded but an announcement was made naming it a false alarm, according to a student who was in the building for an extracurricular activity.

The alarm again went off at 2:18 p.m. and the student said an announcement was made that the building ...

Police Officer Offers Cyber Safety Tips

April 21, 2018

POMPTON PLAINS, NJ – Sergeant Tom Rich of the Summit Police Department spoke before a room packed with parents wanting to hear about technology’s effect on their children and his seminar entitled “Media & Cyber Safety: Protecting Children and Teens” on April 12.

The 20-year police veteran discussed his passion for working with and helping children. He said that in a ...

Gov. Murphy Announces Proposed NJTransit Funding Increase

April 23, 2018

Newark, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday spread a message of hope regarding future improvements to NJTransit services and infrastructure due to a proposed $242 million increase in funding for NJTransit for the 2019 fiscal year. 

At a press conference held at NJTransit’s Central Maintenance Facility on Doremus Avenue in Newark, Murphy, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, and other ...

Arbor Day to be Celebrated on April 27

April 24, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Environmental Commission invites residents to the 20th annual Arbor Day and Poster Contest Winner celebration event, to be held Friday, April 27 at 9 a.m. at the amphitheater.

This year the commission will be honoring Montville Township High School teacher and MTHS Earth Club advisor Paul Rolfe.

Fourth graders from across the township who have ...

Columns

Century 21 Open Houses This Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 Open Houses for this weekend:

Saturday, April 21 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, April 22 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
172 Pine Brook Road, Montville
10 ...

Century 21 Open Houses this Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 open houses for this weekend:

Saturday, April 14 from 1 - 4 p.m.

1.  Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, April 15 from 1 - 4 p.m.

1.  42 Horseneck Road, Montville

2.  Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two ...

Century 21 Open Houses This Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 The Crossing open houses this weekend:

Saturday, April 7 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, April 8 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
42 Horseneck Road, ...

Century 21 Open Houses This Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 The Crossing open houses this weekend:

Saturday, March 31 from 1 - 4 p.m.  

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
1 Kirsten Court, Towaco
42 Horseneck Road, Montville

Saturday, March 31 from 1 - 3 p.m.

12 Pond View, Montville

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Pet Corner