SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - The South Brunswick Township continued their open hearings with K. Hovnanian, a real estate development company that is planning to build new affordable housing off of Route 1 and Independence Way. The hearing, which took place at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, did not reach a final decision over whether the townhouses can be built. The next open hearing will be on Thursday, January 30 at 10 AM.
At the last open hearing on December 16th, 2019, K. Hovnanian brought in development experts to give testimony about the new townhouses. This hearing brought members of the South Brunswick planning board and other experts to give sworn testimony about their assessment of the new townhouses.
Hank Bignell, the Township Planner, raised concerns with the lawyers of K. Hovnanian about the lack of access to public lands the new development will have as well as the very few grounds on the plan that are dedicated to recreational activity. This came as a concern to Mr. Bignell as one estimate says that the new development will bring an estimate of 100 to 150 new kids into the community. Mr. Bignell also suggested making homes with more durable material to avoid creating a financial burden on families.
K. Hovnanian recently proposed an idea to purchase some land from NEC, a Japanese tech company which has a laboratory on Independence Way, and dedicate that part of land for recreational activity. Mr. Bignell said that this idea to purchase land from a neighboring company for this purpose is not common.
The Township also took testimony from Mary Beth Lonergan, an affordable housing professional licensed in New Jersey. Mrs. Lonergan published a report on the New Townhouses being proposed on September 10th, 2019. The report concurred with Mr. Bignell’s assessment that the area needs more recreational spaces. Some suggestions offered by Mrs. Lonergan included a tennis court, basketball court and general open space.
Mrs. Lonergan’s report also found that some bedrooms for the three bedroom homes do not meet the 150 square feet standard set by the Department of Community Affairs. The report also takes into account complaints lodged against another K. Hovnanian development in South Brunswick off of Route 522. Township agents found that it was difficult to sell homes because the one small bedroom (82 sq ft) in three bedroom homes was located on the first floor near the entrance. Since the smallest room is often given to young children, parents did not feel comfortable having them on a separate floor near the door. A recommendation was made that the first floor plan be flipped to have the bedroom at the back and living space upfront near the entrance. K. Hovnanian said they would take this into consideration when submitting a new package.
Ken Zielinski, the Township Engineer, also prepared a report on the new Townhouses. One concern brought up by Mr. Zielinski was the water basin, which collects pollution and runoff caused by storms. Water basins, if not properly maintained by the residential area, are often breeding grounds for vermin and mosquitos and can create odors. The standard is to keep them at least 100 feet away from a residential area while the new plan has it located 25 feet away. K. Hovnanian agreed to address all of these concerns in a new proposed plan before the hearing was adjourned.