BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Township officials at Tuesday's Bernards Township Committee promised to take time to digest public comments, many of them negative, on a proposal to redevelop the Millington Quarry with more than 200 homes, restaurants, retail space and another hotel in town.
Members of the Township Committee said the issue of the quarry redevelopment will not be placed on another committee meeting agenda until following the municipal reorganization meeting in early January.
"I think we should take a step back here...I'm not sure what the best plan for the quarry is," said Deputy Mayor John Carpenter, who was re-elected to the Township Committee in November and, in local tradition, is likely to be named Township Mayor for 2018.
Carpenter said the Township Committee would take time to "digest all the information" that has been passed along by the public's comments at a series of crowded meetings on the topic of the quarry redevelopment plan held this fall.
The Township Committee initially had been intending to discuss the impact of the quarry proposal on local schools and traffic at the Dec. 12 meeting, but announced last week that the subject had been removed from the meeting agenda, with further discussion to be delayed until the new year begins.
However, Carpenter noted to the audience on Tuesday that the requirement for additional affordable housing in Bernards Township, and elsewhere in New Jersey, is likely to bring more traffic and students to the town no matter what is done with the quarry.
Prior to Carpenter's comments, resident James Vopal spoke about what he said could be a major influx of students to township schools if the quarry redevelopment plan is implemented as planned.
Following Carpenter's comments, Township Committeewoman Carol Bianchi said she would like to see the ordinance to move along the current quarry redevelopment plan tabled.
"We will work together and come up with a process and plan that I would like to see address all fo the comments you have made," Bianchi said.
While the redevelopment plan under a state program to rehabilitate blighted property allows public input into the process, residents speaking at meetings have expressed concerns about negative impacts if the quarry property on Stonehouse Road is built up as planned for commercial and residential use. The construction of the project on about 180 acres could negatively impact traffic, worsen an oversupply of commercial space, and overstress volunteer fire and first aid squads, according to some comments. However, other residents said they approve of the inclusion of affordable housing in the plan, as well as an opportunity to develop the property in a way that will grant public access to a lake and other recreational space on the quarried land.