LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The governing body in Little Falls authorized a resolution for the mayor to execute a developer's agreement with respect to a residential housing development in the township.

During the workshop meeting on Aug. 14, Mayor James Damiano said that the construction of 24 townhouses, located on Lindsley Road, is set to start.

The Little Falls Planning Board, earlier this year, approved site plans for the construction of a new townhouse development. The preliminary layout for the site, called Autumn Pointe, would entail three structures that would house approximately eight units each. The section of Lindsley Road where plans are being drafted for development is located at a wooded area, which lies adjacent to the Peckman River.

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According to Damiano, the developer's agreement is the final step in formalizing the Planning Board's approval of the project and improvements that will be required by the developer, while completing this project.

"With this signed, the developer can move forward with the construction and sale of the townhouses," he said.

John Veteri, the attorney representing the property owner and applicant, Highview Homes of Totowa, LLC, who negotiated with the township attorney for the development, said the construction has begun.

The property, was originally owned by Anthony and Shirley Campagna, and was sold to Highview Homes of Totowa, LLC, earlier this year. According to Veteri, Campagna made a prior attempt to develop the property in 1999, with an application to originally conceived as an apartment building with a total of 56 units, to include garage parking underneath, with a portion designated for low-income and senior housing.

"Campagna sued the township under a 'builder's remedy' lawsuit, because the township originally denied the application," Veteri explained. Campagna sued the township and settled in 2002, with the allowance of 36 multi-family units instead of 56.

Highview Homes of Totowa, LLC will build approximately 24 high-end, luxury units that will be 43 feet tall. Units will come with a garage, driveway and parking space area, as well as a walkway and green space. There is no portion of low-income and affordable housing designated from the Autumn Pointe site. Damiano noted that the purchase was grandfathered prior to any COAH regulation in place for affordable housing. Veteri said the a payment towards a trust fund for affordable housing in the township, will be made by property owner/developer of the Autumn Pointe site, as a result.

"As part of the agreement, Highview Homes paid a payment in lieu of building any affordable housing units on the site," he added. "The contribution payment will go into an affordable housing trust fund maintained by the township to use towards rehabilitation."

Veteri also said the units will be available first for Little Falls residents for the first 30 days starting at $349,950 each.

Dorothy O'Haire, local resident, and secretary of the local flood board, expressed concern for the structure's proposed location, which she believed to be lying on a flood plain.

Veteri said none of the property being developed is on a flood plain and that the structure will be set very high off the Peckman River. Many trees and shrubs in the area have also been left intact.

Additionally Damiano pointed out that no state or federal agencies had brought forth any objections on the proposed site plans.

"After being reviewed and authorized by the Passaic County Planning Board, no other agencies, such as the NJDEP, raised any dispute for the development," he added.

Dave Gunia, director of development for Highview Homes of Totowa, LLC, confirmed the start of construction at the site.

"We broke ground this week," he said.